A review in 12 (highly subjective) observations...
Saturday Dec. 31.
1.) The jury’s still out on Deluxe as a music venue. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an interesting space: low ceilings, cool architecture, good stage lighting…but the acoustics make it feel like you’re sitting in sound soup.
2.) What is “sound soup?" It's the feeling of being immersed in sound coming from all directions, so much so that it gets all mixed up and the effect of each instrument manages to get muted. Something about the extreme width of the room and the aforementioned low ceilings creates this. At least, that’s my guess.
3.) I’m not precisely sure who’s included in the current roster of Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, but they put on a great set. They played a lot of songs from Buzzard as well as a good mix of older stuff. Of course, they played "Broad Ripple is Burning,” which will be as haunting the 100th time I hear it as it was the first time. Can’t wait for the new album!
4.) It's simply impossible to go to a show in Indianapolis without seeing Vacation Club on the bill. And that’s just fine with me.
5.) The crowd at an 18+ show, where the cheapest drink is a $6 Miller Lite, is going to behave in a vastly different manner than the crowd at a 21+ club where drinks are about half as expensive.
6.) What I’m saying is: I’ve been to funerals with rowdier crowds than at Saturday night’s show. Drunk or not, it was NEW YEAR’S EVE, for Pete’s sake. At one point I was dancing (really, just moving around) in front of the stage and someone actually told me to put my arms down. I’m fairly sure the Old National Centre hired zombies to stand in for actual audience members.
7.) Seeing Memory Map for the first time, I finally understand what the term math rock means. Precise, repetitive, structured riffs played fast over highly-complex rhythms. In a word: calculated…but in Memory Map’s case, they keep it alt-y enough that it doesn’t get boring or sterile.
8.) Every band should have a broody keyboardist who sits and pores intensely over the keys as he plays, his hair hanging down over his face like a curtain, obscuring his broodiness and intense focus (Margot).
9.) Every band should also have a female bassist (John Rambo).
10.) Speaking of John Rambo & the Vietnam Wars: they played such a rocking version of “Roadrunner” by the Modern Lovers, that it took me almost the entire song to realize it was a cover. Also, have an immediate respect for any frontman who wears a shirt and tie.
11.) The Margot song “Claws Off” contains what is perhaps my favorite rock and roll lyric: “If you wanna go, get lost/If you wanna stay, shut up.” Doesn’t that pretty much sum it up?
12.) If this review were a tweet: “Margot, Memory Map, Rambo, Vacation Club = killer local lineup. Deluxe at Amber Room = a fancy tureen for serving sound soup. Happy New Year!”