Honduras, Ski Lodge and Drowners
January 31, 2014
As January 31 was the start of the weekend, I bolted out of the office and rushed down to see Super Bowl Blvd in an attempt to ride the famed toboggan ride; however, that turned out to be a monumental failure – tickets had been sold out for the entire night, hours before. And to make things worse, the impossibly massive crowd walked around as though they had no idea how to actually walk, and it was quickly becoming infuriating.
With some time to spare, I stopped at Finnerty’s for a few beers, and watched the first period of the Ranger game against the Islanders when I realized that I had to run to the Bowery Ballroom. When I got to the beloved concert space, with beer in hand, I couldn’t help to notice that the crowd was extremely young as I was one of the few people who was old enough to drink, before anything started. (I later remembered coming across something that said the show was one of the rare 16 and up shows in town. And it reminded me of the fact that I had gone to my first real concert by myself at the Bowery Ballroom, back in 1996 when I was around their age. Hell, this one could have been among their first real concerts… )
In any case, for me this was a particularly frustrating show – not because of the relative youth of the Bowery Ballroom crowd that night but largely (and more importantly) because of the fact that I found the bands to be unoriginal and their live sets kind of boring. For example, after catching Honduras live, I was struck by home familiar their material sounded – familiar in a way that I hadn’t noticed from their recent EP. Their material comes from a familiar place – sleazy guitar-led garage rock but there was something about them that I couldn’t completely believe; in some way, I was reminded of a woman I knew who had a large Rhodesian Ridgeback – the dog stood at about 4 feet tall. And when delivery people saw the dog, they would be terrified. But the dog was lazy and very sweet. He preferred sleeping and kissing his master over anything else. In other words, the songs struck me as lacking a snarling, swaggering meanness.
Almost every single one of Ski Lodge’s songs during their set reminded me of the Smiths – in particular songs like “This Charming Man,” :The Headmaster Ritual,“ "This Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” and others. We’re talking about songs that at their heart were Romantic – or perhaps miserablist – with upbeat chords that gave the songs a certain irony, all while being rooted in 60s rock. But in the case of Ski Lodge, I had heard it before, countless times over. And if I wanted to hear the Smiths, I’d play my Smiths records rather than hear a band play songs that mimic the Smiths.
Out of the three bands, Drowners may have been the most polished as far as their live set, but even their set was marred by the fact that it wasn’t terribly original. Worse yet, although they played a short set, it felt tedious to me – all the songs started to bleed into one another. They all had the same emotional register and tone, too. And that gets tiresome rather quickly – after about the first three or four songs my mind begins to wander. It’s a shame because I wanted to like all of these groups and be swept up by the energy and devotion their fans had for them but I couldn’t.
For these photos and more, check out the Flickr set here: