As soon as TADUYA (don't ask me what that stands for) took the Bug Jar stage Thursday night, June 30, one thing was clear: Al Beaman's back, baby. With ex-Al Beaman Band guitarist Eddie Nebula airborne at his side, Beaman dispersed his trademark wry humor and the joys of being contrary.
Their extra-cheesy cover of Scandal's "The Warrior" was actually pretty impressive, with Nebula hitting all the Patty Smyth high notes better than she ever did. Bang bang. I know they don't take themselves all that seriously, but it would be nice to hear more from these guys.
TADUYA warmed the stage for The Lobster Quadrille. Barely a year old, The Quadrille is steeped in faded-lace, Southern-gothic ethos, superstition, and doom. It's kind of like a funeral at a carnival. Songs of cotillions, consumption, salvation, and damnation trickled out hypnotically and narcotically, woven through frontman Solomon's bible-thumping (no really, he actually thumped on a bible) rant. The three-piece jet-black funeral director suits were a nice touch, too. Nobody in town is doing what these guys are doing, instrumentally or lyrically. Nor does any other Rochester band seem truly torn by its own music like The Quadrille is. I've got a feeling demons are being exorcised here.
The next night I got to judge --- lest I be judged --- the local battle of the bands for the 2005 MusicFest. Four bands competed for an opening slot on the bill. For the most part the artists seemed ill prepared. But what they lacked in content they made up for in sheer, shrill volume. Rapper Baby Face Figs got pantsed by his backing track when it jammed but rallied with an a cappella rant before being joined by musicians from the group StatiQ (his competition, incidentally) who backed him up in a quick improv jam. That was probably the coolest thing I saw that night. The results ended in a tie between StatiQ and Black August.
Strolled a few blocks south on State to Spy Bar where The Veins were celebrating 10 years of The Veins. The band is clearly bigger in posture, stature, and volume than the venue could take, but the gig was a whole lotta fun. These guys write such great songs in the heavy, well, vein. They're really fun to watch --- no histrionics but awesome musicianship. You leave humming one of their songs as you walk away, walk away, oh yeah, with your ears ringing. Rock 'n' roll that sounds and feels good.
Ducked out of the show to catch the new and improved Steve McNally beat his B-3 at Milestones, but he had already split the gig and gone to bed as opposed to kick-starting one of those month-long benders he has lately sworn off.
Saturday night, July 2, and it was Reel Big Fish at Water Street Music Hall. Their So-Cal pop punk had the joint sweltering in a non-stop pogo. And why don't more bands have horns anyway?
Next stop: Joe Beard rockin' the blues at The Clarissa Room. The vibe was electric and the dance floor was flooded with feet. Chris Beard showed up and worked the room like a diplomat. He looked great and seems to be recovering nicely from a recent stroke. A benefit is being planned for him at The Clarissa Room on July 31.