Posted by: Dan – May 16, 2012
It was a rock smorgasbord at The Republic last Thursday, where The Dream Machine warmed the crowd for Sam Robinson and the Groove-Elators and closing act Beef Lizard. As the opening act, The Dream Machine set was toned down just a touch. This was certainly not a bad thing; it was refreshing to see them play with a greater degree of control. I heard several different renditions of familiar songs - they took "I Want It" and funked it out, leaving more room for J. Shear to belt guitar solos. I also heard a new blues number, to which Luke Wilson went wild on harmonica.
Sam Robinson and The Groove-Elators; now, I must choose my words carefully here. These guys are immensely talented, polished, and they do indeed rock. However, if I go too long without hearing a minor chord, I start to feel like seeking out a fight club. To great effect, these blues rockers use an array of sounds and styles - they're jazzy, funky, and both guitarists shred like no one's business. But you cannot escape the overtly cheery DMB, Spin Doctors, OAR feeling that oozes out. Without the rise and fall of minor sound in songs, I don't think there's much internal evocation from the music. Although that's not to say that the Groove-Elators left me emotionally unstirred. Sometimes, you really just want to punch music in the face. Ahem.
Beef Lizard closed out the night with some instrumental hard alt rock. I'm reluctant to call them metal, perhaps due to the absence of lyrics. I must say, it was an absolute relief to hear some minor chords after the Groove-Elators. Beef Lizard's set escalated on many levels from start to finish. It sounded as if they played a chronology of the music they'd written, from elementary to super-advanced. So as the set progressed, so did the level of musicianship. In a three-piece, the guitar's role is doubly critical. Beef Lizard's frontman did a superb job jumping from stompy chords to flailing solos, with microseconds in between.
This Wednesday, May 16 at The Republic, Radio Rubber Room presents Downbeat Switch, a band that needs little introduction. They've been rocking Richmond since 2002 with an upbeat, quick-witted style. I've never heard a lulling moment in any of their songs; all transitions are poignant and flowing, aided especially by the presence of keyboards that bind the band cohesively. A constant intermingling of vocal harmony between lead singer Jenna Be and guitarist Meredith Brooks is a large part of DBS's inimitable sound. And of course, The Dream Machine will be there to get us all hot and bothered. In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to... oooh yeah. Hearken to the call of The Republic, 10pm.
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Words by Dan Mulrooney, Photos by Tyler M. Conta