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Crystal Antlers, Local Bands Play Rhythm Room


Last night the Rhythm Room hosted a medley.

Through the work of Stephen Chilton (Psyko Steve Presents), Man-Cat, Come On Die Young, and Crystal Antlers shared a stage.

Those who are not familiar with the bands may not understand the hodge podge that developed when the three groups played back to back. For musical wanderers, the show was likely a hit, but steadfast fans might have found the musical support unimpressive.

I had fun.


Local band Man-Cat started off the evening. In keeping with the band name, the members wore tiger masks and the lead singer introduced each musician as “Man Cat.”

Man-Cat is self-described as a “sample-based, art-rock” band. Their music is essentially reworked pop songs, processed beyond recognition. Their lyrics are the mixture of lyrics from Top 40 Billboard songs. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that their music lends to the dance floor.

The majority of the audience seemed to be loyal fans — family and friends. They clapped, danced, and if you looked close enough, sang along. Even the lead Man-Cat jived as much as his leg brace contraption would permit.

Between songs the band used a speech synthesizer, or similar device, to talk to the audience. “Are you excited for Crystal Antlers?” the robotic voice asked. The sparse audience cheered, but not enough. The robotic voice asked again, this time with better results.

Tempe-based Come On Die Young were up next. The audience seemed even sparser with only a couple people standing and nodding their heads. The punk band didn’t seem to mind that there wasn’t a crowd. In true ear-bleeding fashion, they played loud and you couldn’t help but listen.

The only moment of silence came between songs when a band member had to change his string. To distract from the delay, he said, “How about Herman Cain?” Onlookers made a few inaudible comments. “He doesn’t dislike abortion enough for me,” one member chimed in.

The evening progressed from experimental to hardcore to Crystal Antlers. The five-piece band from Long Beach was a four-piece band for the evening, with Cora Foxx and Damian Edwards missing.

 

Foxx had a replacement on the keys. A less feminine, but nonetheless dapper, gentleman whose name I didn’t catch. Know that it was not Ikey Owens (Mars Volta, De Facto, Free Moral Agents), who recently toured with the band through the UK and Northern Europe.

My initial thought, aside from the small detail that they were wearing shoes that every man should have at least one pair of – Converse, boots, Vans Authentic, Dr. Martens – was WHERE IS EVERYBODY?

The audience was considerably thin. Dare I say it, there was more of a crowd for Man-Cat. Was it the chance of rain that kept people away? A midweek slump? Or as my friend put it, when I asked if he was attending the show, “Nah, I feel like they play here every week!”

Whatever the case, people missed out.

The band is touring in support of their second LP, Two-Way Mirror, released in July. In front of a standing crowd of less than a dozen, they played a set of new and old songs. “Andrew,” from 2009’s Tentacles, seemed to garner the most response. A little more head nodding and foot stomping, mostly on my behalf.

The guys played a lively set. Guitarist Andrew King moved across the stage, the keyboardist bounced around at his seat, shirtless Kevin Stuart slammed skins and offered backing vocals, while an animated Jonny Bells, with wet hair in his face, sang and played bass. Bells didn’t say much during the show. Small talk: a default reaction to a small crowd.

The set was short and sweet. The band wrapped up shortly after 10:30 PM and spent the rest of their time at the venue talking with fans.

Every band graciously thanked Chilton for putting the show together, an expression of gratitude that seldom makes it to the stage. Though I’m certain that the small group of fans that stayed through the end of the night enjoyed the show, I’m sad that the turnout wasn’t larger.

In short, there was a lot to see, but little who came to see it.

 

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