Monday, September 30
Opening spot jitters got The Engaged, who started things off a little cautiously and never quite caught the audience’s attention long enough to make a lasting impression—seems to me they need a bit more practice and less attention paid to pulling their friends on stage for birthday songs.
However, that 30 minutes of awkwardness was quickly erased by current Swedish fanboy crushes Sahara Hotnights who, without a word, launched into “Out of the System,” from their North American debut disc Jennie Bomb, and never looked back. Half the crowd stood stone still, like they had been hit by lightning; the other half immediately flipped out, banged head and screamed, “Sahara HOT DAMN!” in utter amazement. Barely in their 20s, these gals had more chops than a butcher shop and style to spare. We were treated to most of the tunes from their new record, with notable standouts including “Keep Up the Speed,” “Fire Alarm” and “Alright Alright”—all souped-up doses of glam-pop rock-’n’-roll—but midway through they blasted through an awesome version of Suzi Quatro’s “Can the Can” that had all the subtlety of a sledgehammer pounding your skull into little bitty shards. “Not fair, you sultry rock vixens!” I wanted to shout as they left the stage with a wave, coy smile and a thank you, but I was too busy trying to pick up the pieces in time for New York’s answer to the energy crisis, The Mooney Suzuki.
Yes, they sarcastically claimed to have created the solution to our West Coasters’ wanton misuse of technology—most importantly, our personal foot massagers—but they indeed produced enough electric sweat to probably power a small Third World country. They needed no stage to accomplish this feat either, as both guitarists spent more time in the audience than on what ended up being no more than a platform for the drummer to prance around on with a cobra held up over his head. This form of worship was a bit troubling to me, so instead I paid my own form of idolatry by hoisting my index finger in the air at the appropriate times. Not the middle finger, folks—INDEX finger, as in “Number one!” Songs were not simply played, but sliced, diced and served up hot and spicy in an R&B-mixed-with-Motor-City-madness stew from both LPs. The current hits “In A Young Man’s Mind,” “Natural Fact” and “I Woke Up This Morning” were given equal billing with older cuts from their Estrus debut, like “Make My Way,” “Half of My Heart” and “Everything’s Gone Wrong.” On the contrary, everything went right for those who braved a school/work night to check out a stellar evening of rock and roll. I went home thoroughly spent, going straight to bed and giving my personal foot massager the night off.