Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oxford Collapse @ the Mercury Lounge 9/27

I really like Oxford Collapse. It's cool that they are under the radar at Sub Pop. It's also cool that they have a cool name. And it's also cool that they just seem like regular guys who aren't even that cool. They aren't that hip. In fact, I'm sure if you had a misunderstanding with them, you might think they are assholes. Who knows. I just think that there's a particular swagger to their music. It's drunk, it's loud, it's sloppy but deceptively so because underneath all the distortion and howls there are real guitar hooks, real gems there. It's exciting to see them live again, and at the largest venue I've seen them at, the lovely Mercury Lounge. The sound is great, one of the openers, Takka Takka, was amazing live, with balanced guitars (I still hate 3-guitar bands but I'll make an exception in this case), rolling bass lines and tight, simple drumming.

Openers kept hyping up Oxford which was kind of funny because after the umpteenth time of a band member shouting "you guys are in for a real treat" the crowd probably thought, "these guys must be real pretentious". But they aren't; they watched the opening bands with support and encouragement, and that's the kind of community that music needs to have, an open, hey-i'm-in-the-crowd-too aspect.

I caught the second opener, Grandma's Boy, their second show ever, a foursome of young hip flower girls and dueling vocals, the taller one with a husky, deep power, and the other, a more precocious, somewhat perversely sexualized (fitting with their lyrics including songs like "Pink Chocolate"). It was cool, they settled into a groove, most of their songs consisting of two-chord progressions and mid-tempo 4/4 beats. It's like if Shonen Knife were less punk, even more simple, and talked about sex with obvious innuendos.

Takka Takka was really tight, I really enjoyed their songs, all varied, and the lead vocalist sounded great; I was thinking Echo and the Bunnymen the entire time, I hope that is a cool comparison. At first I wondered why they needed a percussionist, and 3 guitars, but they have some really nice little ditties that warranted a triple guitar attack. Very professional stuff, and they put their little keyboard to just the right amount of use, coming in with eclectic sounds at good moments.

And so Oxford came on around 11:45. By the end of the show, you know it's awesome when the backs of the bandmembers' shirts are just soaked with sweat from convulsing and kicking out the jams. They ripped through numbers like "Molasses" and songs from their new album "Bits" with a real urgency and fury. I wished they could have played Lady Lawyers but anywho. They have the unfortunate situation that most of their fans seem to be indie rock people who don't dance or do anything, although their songs are certainly moshable.

I think they are a solid band because they really have a punk feel, there's vibrancy at the root of their music, which is uncomplicated and certainly sticks to the guitar-drum-bass formula. They sing about getting ridiculous and loosing sight and stutter and wail about and wade in shit. They don't mind getting dirty I think. They sound normal, and not normal for indie rock, or punk, or garage rock, or whatever. They don't posture with their vocals, their melodies are clear and are backed by rambling drums, and it's music made more on impulse and catching that great moment, extending it for 2 or 3 minutes, and doing it all over again. They are a fun band to watch, when a bassist can come out to the audience and drink a patron's beer during a song, that's rude and odd and amazing. They aren't wimps on stage and prance around like it really matters to them, showing it not with just head bopping, but with head banging.

Check out Oxford Collapse's MySpace here. Or if you want to make it official, go here.

For Takka Takka, go here. Their song "Fever" is on the Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist soundtrack available next week.

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