Art Brut, Spinto Band, and Tokyo Police Club, Middle East, October 16, 2006
Tokyo Police Club, hailing from Toronto and currently playing their way back on this last bit of their tour, opened last night’s show at the Middle East with a loud and scattered sound that, at first, had me checking my watch and ordering a beer. But the sound fast congealed to reveal a band that has mixed their obvious Strokes/Sonic Youth/The Edge/Radiohead influences into a sonic stew that, though earnest and energetic, needs a little more time simmering in the pot to enhance its own flavor. But they believed in their tunes and performance enough to convey confidence as opposed to arrogance. A delicate feat for sure, and here’s to seeing how they develop on their next time around the city.
The Spinto Band
The Spinto Band, a six-member ensemble formed by a group of friends from Wilmington, Delaware, played next, and were the highlight of the night. The band — Thomas Hughes on bass and guitar, Sam Hughes on keys, Jeff Hobson on drums, and Joe Hobson, Nick Krill, and Jon Eaton all on guitar — has a lot going for them, not least of which is that they write and perform catchy and compelling songs. Simple as that. Their album Nice and Nicely Done (Bar/None Records) brims with shimmering pop tracks that resemble the quirky pop of Modest Mouse to the staccato strumming of the Strokes to the outer space soundscapes of the Flaming Lips.
Vocals, although shared at times by all members, are primarily handled by Krill and Hughes. Krill, who resembles David Byrne circa 1977, has a unique high register voice well-suited for the melodic nature of the music. Hughes, who last night resembled a Wings-era Paul McCartney complete with Hofner-like bass and mullet-like hair, sings with the same enthusiasm and head bopping as Macca himself. All members of the band were off-the-wall energy for the length of the set. Songs Like “Oh Mandy” and “Direct to Helmet” showcased the group’s pop charm. The guitar heavy songs are embellished by tasteful electronics and background harmonies. It’s danceable, it’s rocking, it’s smart, and if a Weezer/Talking Heads supergroup is something you’d look forward to, these guys are worth checking out.
Art Brut closed the show, and did so in extremely tight pants. This London group has generated a respectable amount of press in the States (they choose to play here more than England) and has also landed on the cover of Rolling Stone…Germany. These guys love to play, and it shows. I like their straight-up, “yeah, we’re gonna play loud, we’re gonna make ridiculous facial expressions to each other as well as the crowd, and yes, our drummer will play the entire show standing up” attitude. As the two guitars delivered cardiac arrest to the crowd, lead singer Eddie Argos sang/talked/yelled into the microphone with the flair and larger-than-life delivery of a professional wrestler’s manager. I dug it because they dug it.
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