Last night in the Melkweg played The Hard Lessons, OKGO and Motion City Soundtrack. They were touring together through Germany, Paris and Amsterdam. Last night was the end of their tour. I would not have even thought to go to this event except for finding the OKGO treadmill video on utube and thought it was so cool that I was curious enough to go see them live.
My first impression, while waiting outside for the doors to open, was that I’d accidently arrived at a highschool dance. Was anyone there over 18? I’m sure everyone else thought I was someone’s mother. This was not a good sign. And why so many American teenage girls? Did the bands charter a plane for them?
The Hard Lessons started the evening off playing “Rock and Roll”. They covered all the genres – rock, blues, country ballad, etc. Imagine the Scissor Sisters but less polished. Continuing the high school theme, I gave them an A for effort and enthusiasm. Augie on guitar strutted his stuff and did his best to get the crowd clapping and singing, Ko Ko kicked her legs and showed off her mother’s highheeled shoes. The Anvil was by far the best musician of the group, calmly and coolly beating the shit out of his drum set. Overall I gave them a C+. Keep working at it, get a real bass player and a real keyboard player, and you’ll be fine. Of course if you visit their website, it reads as if they are the next coming of Christ’s official band, but that’s American marketing for you.
Next up was OKGO. As I said, they were the reason I was there, and the reason I dragged DB there. These guys better be good since I’m sitting among a bunch of teenage girls, whom I never even liked when I was one. At least they were a full band with 3 guitar players and drummer. And they put out some sound. The driving force is Damian who seems to have learned his stage presence from Pelle Almquvist and had enough boyish charm to keep even someone his mother’s age interested. The music is nothing new or unique, but it’s fast and fun and not at all self absorbed or pretentious. The musicianship is good enough to sound professional without being so polished as to be boring. In other words, good fun for an hour. The most fun part, and what makes them stand out from the hundreds of wannabees out there, is their willingness to practice until perfect their silly dancing. At the end of their set they played a song off their CD in background and the four of them stood at the front of the stage and danced. They were obviously having a great time doing it, and they were good at it too! The choreography is as corny as a barndance, but that’s not the point. The point is that they CAN do it and they DO do it and everyone feels good watching them. Just check out utube for all the OKGO kids doing their own versions of the dances. B for music, A+ for the fun factor.
Last up, and headlining the evening, was Motion City Soundtrack. Will someone please tell me WHY they were headlining? I was so completely underwhelmed, no, even repulsed, that I nearly walked out half way through their set. I only stayed out of morbid curiosity to see if it could get any worse. Justin Pierre lost his voice and could barely choke out sounds in the end. The music was just so boring and the band so irritating. Talk about overacting! There was absolutely nothing genuine about their stage performance. The most irritating was the keyboard player who threw himself and his keyboard around the stage with such pseudo intensity as if his job was as difficult and important as brain surgery. Almost as irritating was Justin’s constant bitching about the sound coming into his earpiece. And his talking to the crowd only showed him to be an egomaniac with absolutely nothing interesting whatsoever to say. We don’t care about how cool you think you are Justin. Concentrate on making better music and you’ll be better off. I have to report, however, that the crowd loved them. They jumped. They sang. They crowd surfed (although they let one poor girl fall to the ground and stopped the band in mid-song to make sure she was ok). But they are only 17 and can be forgiven for not knowing any better. In 20 years they will play this band’s music and have fond memories of being young and naive. Think Rick Astley or Milli Vanilli.