Bear Hands, Aaron Jentzen, Ready Room
Wednesday February 17, Brillobox
with Lisa, Spencer
The Brillobox was uncharacteristically empty on this Wednesday night. Perhaps it was the pub quiz going on downstairs, or perhaps it was the Tortoise show at Mr. Small's going on at the same time. Whatever the reason, a lot of people missed out on a great performance by Bear Hands. I arrived a little late to the show, since I had an IM basketball game until 9:30 and then took the bus. We caught two songs by Ready Room, and it was mostly instrumental guitar rock. The drummer was really loud and fast, and he walked off the stage drenched in sweat afterwards. They sounded fine, but it wasn't the style of music that worked in a big room with only 12 people in it (which was the situation there). Oh well. They seem to have an entire set from the Lava Lounge posted on YouTube: check out this one and the subsequent videos.
Next up was Aaron Jentzen. I had picked up a copy of the City Paper by the bus stop on Craig Street so that I could do the crossword on the bus (which I did) and the cover article was about St. Vincent (who are playing at Diesel on Sunday Februrary 21) by some guy named Aaron Jentzen. The name sounded familiar at the time, and I realized why when we got to the show and I saw a poster. I wasn't sure it was the same guy, but when I was walking past the bar at some point I heard somebody say that the singer is the music editor for the City Paper. So that was neat. The music was fine, lots of vocals (and I had trouble making out lyrics) with some twangy guitar work and muted drums. It wasn't really my cup of tea, but it seemed more appropriate given the size of the crowd. It also prompted a discussion with Spencer about how Pittsburghers seem to like a serving of country with their rock & roll meals. I postulated that it might be a sheer consequence of geography, since I feel this corner of Pennsylvania is situated perfectly between Southern-fried country music and Northeastern classic rock. That was as deep as my theory was. I'd be interested to hear other ideas, as well.
I couldn't find any videos, but he has a few live recordings from Howler's posted on his website here. Also, in case you're interested, here is a listing of his articles from the City Paper.
Finally, Bear Hands took the stage. Their music was quite different from the previous acts, and it also felt like it would work really well in a more crowded club, but it didn't seem like they particularly cared. They went through a series of upbeat, loud and rocking songs and seemed to be really playing their hearts out and having fun the whole time. This also might be because they just embarked on a tour, and this was (I believe) only the second stop. Despite the small crowd, everyone seemed to be enjoying it and bopping around (you know, the usual hipstery dancing-but-not-really kinda thing). I can't really think of much to say about their music except that it was wholly enjoyable and uplifting. If you have an opportunity to see them live, definitely take advantage of it. I feel like they'll be popular in the near future, and for good reason. After the show, I made Spencer buy me their single on white vinyl (since I paid for his ticket) and the singer informed that their debut album is fully recorded and in the mixing process, so I'm looking forward to that. Here are some videos of them playing live, and here's a song from their EP. Also, their website has the single "What A Drag" available for free download: check it out. Also, check out their MySpace page for tour dates.