There was an event at the Replay Lounge last evening, and it went like this, in real time: A local band that's going national, if it hasn't already gone national, decides to stage its record release show with a few local openers. The Roseline
(an alt-country band dedicated to the concept of emotion, and three-to-four-minute songs that package emotion like little gifts) allows Monzie Leo & The Big Sky
(a band of dudes interested in pain and hardship) and 1,000,000 Light Years
(a one-man act of bleep-blop dance-trance) to open up for them, for a solid evening of camaraderie and tight jeans.
The sonic historiography of this show, on this night, spans millennia. Monzie Leo plays from an era pre-toothbrush, pre-antiseptic, with nary a volt in the set, serenading our crowd as if from the shoulder of some busted-ass gravel highway. The band's instrumentation resembles nothing from our modern era - they have a guitar plugged into an electric amp, yeah, sure, OK, but then the violin-player and sometimes two-piece drummer drums, and a sometimes pleonastic mandolin player plucks along narrow frets. The tall, lean, bearded, and hatted man plays the mandolin in such a way that when not completely unnecessary, becomes completely necessary. His axe dances over and around the major chords of certain sing-along songs, supplying a haunting feel to what are otherwise quite secular tunes. A dude plays bass, but instead of a bass it's a bucket with a broomstick neck and a big string, with a melted ice-scraper for a pick. He plucks it, out of tune most of the time, like a sick Dick Cheney-kind of heartbeat, but instead good and not feeding the spirit of war crimes. The rhythm sticks else-wise, and finds a hearty supplement when the tub-string chances upon Monzie's main riff, which chugs along major and minor chords. Our titular Monzie, Joel Brummet, croons like a dude who really means it, like a guy with a lot on his mind who is not afraid to share it with the world at a heightened, swashbuckling decibel. This is not depressing music, but music from The Depression, and it's sweet, filled with gap-toothed holler and simple melodies that repeat, that seem wrought from rust.
The second "band" plays with instruments that would mindfuck Thomas Edison, even Tesla, probably even Bill Gates. It's Korg-porn, with the backdrop of dance music, techno, whatever. People dance along the empty floor of the Replay Lounge. It's not only a matter of decorum and tact to dance for friends, but a matter of necessity: something about 1,000,000 Light Years compels even the shadiest, drunkest, scum-baggiest asshole at the bar to nod his head, to behave. Patrick Hangauer plays a tried-and-true brand of bleep-blop tunes out of a - get this - APPLE COMPUTER, and a Korg keyboard, which reeks of his sexy right-hand riffs. Yes, his shirt is anachronistic for the tunes that come from the stage (I mean, I THINK that was a shirt my gay uncle wore at his prom in 1978, but); yes, sure, there are no vocals with which to sing along or at which to heckle; and yeah, OK, there really isn't that much to do with 1,000,000 Light Years other than dance up next to some former subordinate while pretending to really enjoy the nuanced textures of the music. Then the third band comes on and plays something very wholesome, something very mid-to-late-20th-century, which, yeah, trumps the whole show, makes the whole thing worth it.
The Roseline is now a "solid band" - alt-rock, alt-country, something like that. Even though the current incarnation, led by frontman Colin Halliburton, has been going for maybe only a few weeks, the four-piece locks it down, without so much as a sneaky look or scowl between members, without so much as an on-stage meltdown that leaves a member with a gaping head wound; in fact, the show was without any sort of logistical fuck-up. For being, basically, a brand new band, the Roseline are warm for the three week tour they're about to pull off. Although their rhythm section belongs to Lawrence garage-punk/rock stalwarts Dry Bonnet, the Roseline keep the melodies distilled and serene, spacious enough to let the songs of heartbreak breathe. Despite the punk roots of the rhythm section, there is a tenderness that permeates the bones of their set, like a cancer that everybody wishes they could get.
Halliburton's band works for the same reasons any other band has ever worked: hard work, dedication, determination, and the awareness of the constant audience-eye, which watched the set intently, drunkenly, and with arms open enough to embrace a heart as big as his. He sang of love gained, love lost, love gained and then lost, lost and then gained, gained and then gained (probably), lost and then lost (also probably), gained and then lost and then gained again (and then lost). While the mood of the night was one of heartache, of brooding over the fact that every single one of us will die lonely and alone, the Roseline busted out a set as heartfelt and real as any poem you'll ever read, as visceral and as pungent as any genital you'll ever orally encounter. The facts are these: People are crazy, and you are one of them. And the Roseline will help you become un-crazy. Or the opposite.