Smith Westerns, with Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Bleach Bloodz
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Better than: The high school prom I think these kids just came from.
When the oldest member of a band is 20, you should
expect the crowd to be young. And I did. But the Smith Westerns is a strange
breed of young band that drew out both the young and the of-age and curious
last night at RecordBar, making for a bizarre crowd and a strange night.
First to hit the stage were local garage-rock favorites
Bleach Bloodz, though this time Troy and Vince were joined by a host of local
musician stand-ins for a one-night-only performance featuring a number of cover songs (which is only fitting in the recent success of local tribute shows). The Bleach Bloodz rocked their signature fuzzy guitars and hip-swaying bass lines through a handful of original tracks and then killed it with a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Citadel." By now the crowd had grown considerably, and I imagine the Bloodz gained a few new, young fans of their beanie-capped, sunglassed garage-wave rock affair.
However, I now have to admit that the next act I hardly
remember, because they played in the dark and were entirely boring. In fact, I
had to spend a considerable amount of time today looking up their name, because
they have been apparently omitted from almost every mention of the Smith
Westerns' show. Unknown Mortal Orchestra, from Portland, Oregon, is on tour
with the Westerns for the Midwest-West Coast leg of their tour. Their brand
of sleepy rock is ... well, I really can't say, because I don't remember it. And I
By the time the Smith Westerns took the stage, RecordBar
was packed, especially for a Tuesday night. The Chicago-based band, composed
of brothers Cullen and Cameron Omori, and Max Kakacek and Colby Hewitt, looked
like hipsters straight out of Williamsburg but handled the stage with an
impressive amount of maturity. They rocked through their set list with the type
of stage presence that a young band known for wrecking green rooms and on fast track
to stardom has - it's jumpy, it's quick, and it's even a bit arrogant.
There were a number of people at the bar who had never
heard the Smith Westerns before but had heard it was the show to be at.
Comparisons with Marc Bolan and T. Rex, as well as glam-rock god David Bowie,
were swirling around all night. But the Smith Westerns are far more garage than
glam. Their noisy sound is a '70s throwback, but the Smith Westerns keep
influences like the Beatles near to their hearts, making their sound hard to
pin down in words. In the end, they played their set to a packed crowd. For
some, it was a chance to see a group that's rising fast and furiously to fame.
For others, it was perhaps a letdown, thanks to all the hype. For this reviewer,
it was just a good night of rock. And those are getting harder to come by these
Overheard in the crowd: "Is this an all-ages show or something? Seriously."