Saturday, November 22, 2008

West Side Story

I had to go to The Good Hurt on the west side on Friday night (November 21, 2008) to see a friend of mine play with his band. Scott Sigl's band, The Happy Casualties were closing the night, and I'm really smitten with their CD, but I wanted to be sure to see Hard Goodbye too, so I got there early. Maybe a little too early.

The bus trip there was a bit trying, and time consuming, but when I walked in, there I was in the middle of Friday night date night - west side style. It was like viewing life in a petri dish. All the range of human particularities are present. No one I knew was there yet, but it was so crowded I had to wait to be admitted.

The band playing was rocking hard and I wandered around to find a good vantage point to see them and watch the door for acquaintances. Wow, it sounded like date night - 1979. Dirty Money weren't what I expected. A Grand Funk Railroad crossed with a little glam rock and a bit of hair-metal. I don't think it's a genre that's capable of being done fresh. And I don't think anyone should try.

They had a lot of enthusiastic fans present, and they had been celebrating with a lot of drinking! I had to dodge the occasional swerving dancer losing balance. And their set went on and on. When they finished, one was bombarded by disco music, played far louder than the band!

That's when I spotted Scott hauling some of his equipment in. Was I ever grateful for a familiar face. He introduced me to the rest of The Happy Casualties and I went off to the door to see if Elaine Layabout was here yet, as he said she was on her way. Rob Danson of Death To Anders came too, so we at least had each other.

Hard Goodbye were the next band and it just didn't inspire me. A couple of good songs, but I just thought it sounded pretty ordinary. It was hard not to compare it to the night at Boardner's a few days ago, when three band just killed it. I mean, why do the bands on the east side make it seem so effortless while others struggle just to be mediocre. Maybe under different circumstances I could reconsider, but all the music so far this night just wasn't making it. I don't think the audience disagreed, as most left during this set.

As soon as The Happy Casualties began, the night transformed itself, right before my eyes, into an evening of worthwhile music. Here was a genuinely talented and unpretentious singer and his band, rocking out at one o'clock in the morning for about 20 of us who stayed. Scott Sigl has a great, raw voice, live, and he can really shred his guitar. He was ably matched by his bass player and drummer.

I have their CD, Too Much Joy Turns Back the Fingernails that I got from Scott and I have been playing it a lot. It's a really pretty indie-pop record with terrific songwriting with some beautiful orchestral flourishes. They only played one song off that release, but this was strictly a rock and roll set and it showed another side of their music. They rocked with a quality that reminded me of The Monolators or Manhattan Murder Mystery.

It was great because the night turned out to be a really fun evening with a few friends and, finally, some really wonderful music. Thanks to The Happy Casualties.


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