Part video store, part screening room and part performance space, the Cinemat has been hosting left-of-center live bands for more than a year now. However, it recently underwent renovations to up its capacity and creates the feeling of something like an actual rock club — that is, one suited for the occasional (really) loud band in addition to the quieter, more intimate ones that have tended to play there in the past.
It’s just too bad the Funny Bone, the new comedy club upstairs from the Cinemat, hasn’t gotten the message: The only glitch in Friday night’s show came because of a noise complaint from the uptight upstairs neighbors, which forced the Cinemat to hold an hour-long intermission two bands into the four-band bill. Let’s hope they can work something out.
I missed openers Slam Dunk!, who’ve played a few shows in Bloomington in the last couple of months, none of which I’ve made it to. They have a personnel connection to local mainstays Phoenix Bodies, who were the second band on the bill. There are people reading this review who have seen them dozens of times more than I have (this was my third time). I’ll just say that, while I could do without the male nudity (the only variety they have to offer), I can appreciate their abrasive spazz-grind antics, especially in the context of (occasionally) sleepy Bloomington.
As for the touring bands, Providence, R.I., trio White Mice were, if nothing else, repugnantly loud. Their grotesque rodent costumes and equally grotesque sound — replete with almost unbearably grating guitar and bass tones — felt more calculated and perfunctory than it did genuinely heavy or disturbing. Most of the crowd hung in there, but to my jaundiced ears, White Mice pale in comparison to past Providence luminaries like Lightning Bolt, Arab on Radar and Olneyville Sound System. It’s a proud tradition, at the very least.
An Albatross, on other hand, were a hoot. Their brand of mutated, keyboard-heavy post-grindcore (if that’s what you can call it) is cool enough in itself. However, the incongruous presence of singer Edward Geida — who brings to mind a cross between an Iggy Pop impersonator and those guys who did the Freedom Rock commercials for K-Tel years ago — really sends their stage act over the edge. Is this guy serious, or is he the best deadpan meta-comedian this side of Neil Hamburger and Andrew W.K.? It’s a tough call. Their set highlighted an enjoyable night of loud music, and I’m happy to see the Cinemat emerging as a legit venue for these high-decibel bands.