Arcata Eye Scene

A-town art, music, theatre. Mostly music. Updated Wednesdays.

Josh Duke: Bonus Tracks – Aug. 7, 2007

Friday night exhibited a jam-packed lineup at the Jambalaya the likes of which we meager music goers haven’t seen since…. well, the last time we saw them. Former Humboldtians the Ian Fays graced us with their presence to a crowd whose eyeliner to Converse sneaker ratio neared a 1:1. I felt like I was more at a Green House party than a fine dining establishment, but I still managed to rock socks.

Jensen Rufe’s Men’s Fashions opened up the evening, and since their set was only four songs, I’ll only give them four sentences(does this first one count? I dunno). But they had all the makings of a contextually successful L.A. indie rock band: mostly on-key singing, cover songs that are obscure-but-not-too-obscure, one original for panache, a lot of borrowed gear, and leather pants. Their Mogwai inspired shoegaze had just enough of a kick to keep it entertaining, even for a non-scenester like me. But not to worry, give it a few more ransackings of the local thrift store and a few more listens to the third Promise Ring album and I’m sure we’ll see them equipped with enough material to be a force to be reckoned with. Was that four? Well, it is now.

Next was The Broken Hearts, an amalgamated mix of ska beats and Casio melodies with a hint of folksie nostalgia. Cleaned up real good, they strutted through their disjointed set, blissfully unaware of their need for a good segue. Don’t get me wrong, they were fun. With their stellar horn player, their slow numbers sounded like how every Less Than Jake ballad should have sounded. Julia’s key playing provided a jumpy and steady pace, but her Autoharp (which is an awesome instrument), was sadly inaudible. As their set continued, I couldn’t help feeling tossed around. The music danced from style to style, which is fine in some arenas, but left the performance with about as much cohesion as the story I cooked up for my girlfriend about my whereabouts last night.

After them was the Ian Fays, which struck me as funny, as there was still Dynamite Sweater to perform their brand of “Isn’t Humboldt So Cool” rock music. No offense to the Sweater guys, but given the high per capita concentration of art and drama majors in the room, I had a hunch that the Fayes were the main draw of the evening. But that aside, what’s there to say about the twins that hasn’t been said already?

They’re a Humboldt success story. They actually escaped the gravitational pull of this county that insulates and comforts yet traps any sort of burgeoning talent. But they’re still the same ole Fays. Too innocent to be jaded, but tough as nails in all the right places. At least for their efforts they have some better gear, and as a result no longer sound like they’re singing with a fish bowl on top of their heads.
This is all considering the last time I saw them they were still using a drum machine while Lena held one of those tiny electronic keyboards up to a microphone (oh wait, she still does). But their stuff is still as catchy as ever. It’s heartfelt. It reminds me of constant and unwavering high school rejection that stings you in the gut just enough to make you wish momentarily you could relive those erstwhile days. Which is a nice contrast to Lena, the silent and blank-stared sister whose spot on triangle playing made a nice cherry on top of an already engorging sundae of an evening.

Dynamite Sweater closed out the evening, and after a substantially noticeable crowd-thinning, they started their set. And well….I have to admit, the main reason I stayed was because Budweiser was discounted to $2 a pint during their set. And they weren’t bad, it was just late. Cramming four bands into an evening that didn’t get underway until 10 p.m. is like trying to tackle the dessert cart after your fifth plate at the Oriental Buffet. But they sounded fun. I heard them play “Portland,” then play “Buffy Swayze,” finished my pint, and swaggered home. But the highlight of the evening was their impromptu song on Andrea’s underwear, which gave us a hearty laugh and made us feel somewhat justified for staying up that late. All in all, definitely a worthy evening.

Josh Duke maintains a blog at bonustracks.typepad.com.
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