Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: The Sloe Guns at Arlene Grocery, NYC 10/5/07

Bad segue city: the opening band was a heavy metal act straight out of Spinal Tap, carefully coiffed long hair obscuring their sweaty faces, all metal studs, skintight jeans and leather, preening and screeching. After they finished, the room emptied out completely, and as they left, it became obvious that most of the crowd was children. Not the trust fund children armed with cellphones and their parents’ credit cards clogging the streets outside. These were rugrats, ten-year-olds at best. Maybe somebody’s big brother is in the band and the whole fifth-grade class took a field trip up from Teaneck to see him. No wonder the door guy didn’t card me (although the girl inside taking money was tweaking hard – crystal meth? – and with shaking hands tried to stamp my shirtsleeve. Hands off, bitch, I wanted to tell her. That was a birthday present).

The Sloe Guns battled an awful sound mix for the better part of an hour, and though they ultimately lost, it was like watching the Yankees lose to the Red Sox in the fifth game of the 2004 playoffs. Everybody was firing on all cylinders for that one, remember? Even Esteban Loaiza was good that night. But there was a 500-pound gorilla in the room named David Ortiz, and tonight the gorilla was a sound guy who carries about as much weight as the Red Sox slugger, but on a frame half the size. When the direct input box on the bass amp broke, resulting in a couple of songs being played with little if any bottom end, the rotund little guy huffed and puffed his way onto the stage but didn’t do anything about it. Exasperated, the bass player plugged straight into the amp and turned his beautiful black Danelectro Lyre copy bass up really loud, just to be safe. So did the sound guy pay attention and bring up the vocals to compensate? Hell no.

But this lit a fire under the band. “Thanks for nothing, asshole,” muttered the frontman under his breath. A lot of bands sound best when they’re pissed off, and the Sloe Guns might be one of them. The remainder of the show was a blazing success, given the sonic limitations. The band had promoted the show as being all new material, and while they did a couple of older numbers, the time they’ve spent writing has not been wasted. A lot of the new songs are more straight-ahead, anthemic, meat-and-potatoes rock in a somewhat similar vein as Willie Nile, driven by riffs and hooks as opposed to the Sloe Guns’ usual twang. They even played a pop song with a surprisingly complex verse, complete with jazz chords, and pulled it off.

Then they took it to the next level. The frontguy switched guitars, running an acoustic into his Fender amp, and they launched into the most beautiful new song I’ve heard this year. It’s a gorgeously swaying, sad country song, melodically very similar to Son Volt’s Tearstained Eye. The Sloe Guns’ lead guitarist is a tremendous slide player, and the solo he played, all unexpected passing tones, was absolutely heartwrenching. And the band didn’t lose any steam afterward, following with their classic 2004 kiss-off anthem Guardian Angel, from their most recent full-length album, another slide guitar-driven number:

You’d never stab me in the back
Unless you thought that I deserved it
You’d always protect me if I was attacked
Unless you could avoid it
All the kindest of hearts you always had on display
That’s why every night I get down on my knees and pray
You’re not my guardian angel

They closed with a stomping, Stonesy new one on which they went round the horn with closing licks at the end, first the lead guitar, then the bass, then the drums, then back to the head and boom, it was over. As lousy as a lot of the experience was: why can’t this sometimes great-sounding club find a reliable sound engineer? – it was bracing to watch these guys fight and claw their way through the set. Take a chance on this band’s next gig Oct 27 at 10 PM at the Baggot Inn. The sound can’t be any worse than it was here.

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October 10, 2007 - Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. […] Concert Review: The Sloe Guns at Arlene Grocery, NYC 10/5/07 […]

    Pingback by Index « Lucid Culture | October 14, 2007 | Reply

  2. […] Jan 18 fiery highway rockers the Sloe Guns play the Underscore (the former Hogs & Heifers on upper First Ave.), time TBA. Their new […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Music Calendar - End of Dec 07 and All of Jan 08 « Lucid Culture | December 29, 2007 | Reply

  3. […] Fri Jan 18 fiery highway rockers the Sloe Guns play the Underscore (the former Hogs & Heifers on upper First Ave.), 10 PM. Their new material […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Music Calendar Jan/Feb 2008 « Lucid Culture | January 14, 2008 | Reply


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