Concert Review: The Jameses at Propaganda on Friday, May 14

Categories: Concert Review
Jameses_Reed_Fischer.jpg
Photo by Reed Fischer
The Jameses in the midst of not holding back at Propaganda on Friday
The Jameses
With Chill Pillars/Cop City, Nervous Systems, Guy Harvey
Propaganda, Lake Worth
Friday, May 14, 2010


The Jameses' "Gobi Desert" is nearly seven minutes of revivalist lo-fi rock built with a guitar riff every bit as seductive as Pavement's noodlings on "In the Mouth of a Desert." During the West Palm Beach trio's slot at Propaganda on Friday, unleashing "Gobi" took a night marked with garbled lyrics and post-punk thrashing to a sublime spot where the crowd could neither stand offensively still, nor throw themselves violently against one another -- both scenarios occurred at other points during the evening.

Singer-guitarist-keyboardist Dan McHugh's soothing manatee T-shirt helped complete the mood of the "Gobi" moment, which consisted of a lot of nodding heads and complete strangers exchanging satisfied smiles. No cynicism, just a few stanzas of infectious guitar melody, followed by a tension-filled coda that never lets up, flogging away until the final chord.

Earlier, the Jameses' commotion was a hot poker to the crowd -- not only did the assembled move close to the stage, but McHugh even admonished to tell them to play nice. With Jesse Bryan handling keys, bass and some tambourine, and drummer Danny Hitchcock kicking every song in the rear, they took the night onto their shoulders and spun it with dizzying results. The show also marked the release of the band's "The Haunted Rider"/"Rat People" 7-inch single, which has a fantastic collage for a cover.
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The Jameses' 7-inch sums up that Monday feeling
Incidentally, the verses from "The Haunted Rider" are reminiscent of Cutting Crew's "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" when they play it live.

The rest of the evening: Cop City/Chill Pillars topped the night's decidedly scuzzy bill with the most subversive set of them all with post-punk statements often pulsing randomly like a blender. Skittery Gainesville fuzz-rock outfit -- augmented by a killer vintage Crumar organ -- Nervous Systems has a lead singer who looks like a taller, angstier Steve Carell. And, Lake Worth's Guy Harvey, four guys with crackling amps and more than a passing interest in big, blazing Dinosaur Jr.-style fretwork. Someone standing behind me remarked, "they play like they don't care." True that they looked shy and unaffected, but anyone who rigs a pickup into a miniature acoustic guitar's sound hole with packing tape has to care at least a little.
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