Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Astaires, the Laissez Fairs, the Sonic Archers - Hard Hat Lounge Mar 1, 2014

This small, neighborhood bar is quickly becoming a favorite hang out for me - convenient, nice people, cheap drinks, good food and now having some quality live music. They still need to work on the PA some if they plan on having full rock acts, but otherwise, a fun destination.

This night was an unofficial High Rollers show, featuring local garage/mod/rockers the Astaires (who couldn't play the official High Rollers event since they did so last year), along with John Fallon's new project with members of Trevor and the Jones, the Laissez Fairs and touring band (who did play for the High Rollers the night before), the Sonic Archers.

The Astaires opened the night, proving that four young, energetic rock'n'rollers might be a bit much for the, shall we say, "intimate" stage at the Hard Hat. They were definitely a bit much for the PA system, as the vocals were buried for much of the set. But the gents still gave a great set of rockin' garage and lead singer/guitarist Cromm's new line-up - Dakota (ex of the Remedies) on guitar/vocals, Jules on bass and Geordie on drums - is the best version of the group yet. The rhythm section is excellent - pounding drums and fluid bass lines, and Dakota adds a lot to the sound by filling things out and adding lead lines - and singing lead on their cover of "Do You Love Me" - a number that got everyone up and dancing. They do seem to be expanding a bit and while they are still gloriously noisy and loose, there were some psych elements, with moments reminding me of Spaceman 3, and a terrific sonic freak out at the end. Always dug these cats but they have improved immensely and will be taking over the scene!

Up next was the debut of the Laissez Fairs, who split the set between John Fallon's and Trevor's tunes, opening with John's latest, "Ain't Got No Money". Unfortunately, they didn't seem to have had too many practices as the tricky changes in this tune seemed to have gotten the best of them on this night - but they persevered and probably most of the audience never knew. Trevor sang lead on a couple tunes and the group seemed to know these the best - think that they were titled "When You Think It's Alright" and "Go Down" - and John played some cool lead licks. Guitarist Joe took the vocals for one while adding 12 string guitar to several. Steppes songs included "Drama Queen", "Bad Blood", "Master James", "Lonely Girl" and the finale, "No Name Yet For Henry", one of the best of the night, with Fallon turning up and blasting out some Townshend-esque chords and solos. Some tightening up is in order, but a cool combination of like-minded individuals who could make something really interesting and unique.

Rounding out the night was the Sonic Archers, from Denver Colorado, who had played an "official" High Rollers show the night before at the Beauty Bar, which might have explained their pretty low-key demeanor for this gig. While stylishly attired, there was not much stage presence, but the musicianship was there - dug the interplay between the Gibson ES335 and Rickenbacker. Again, the vocals were a bit low in the mix, but there seemed to be some real songs there, mixing mod and psych, although the delivery was lacking. Highlights were a version of the Jam's great "Time For Truth" and an original mod anthem "This Is It".

Thanks to Teresa Kidder, DJ Lucky and the Hard Hat for a groovy Saturday night!