Big Bear, um, living large
Oneida + Big Bear + The Coke Dares + Awesome Color
October 21, 2005
Having babysat both Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Liars during Brooklyn’s last rock boom, the trio still watch their opening bands snag sweet deals some five years and seven albums on.
If Beta is right and Oneida is forever doomed to watch its onetime curtain-jerkers become take over the world, it seemed to make sense to go see Oneida and grab an early look at the bands that the glossies will be jamming down our throats in a couple of years. So here’s Status Ain’t Hood’s report on Oneida’s newest crop of openers.
Awesome Color is a band from Ann Arbor led by a husky bearded dude in a tie-dyed shirt who got very, very drunk on Friday night and ripped some truly non-heroic guitar heroics. The band plays a noisy bar-band churn, sometimes making halfhearted attempts at MC5ian triumphal frat choogle. Its songs are mostly really long and really boring, and they keep inviting their friends onstage: a guy who does a weird werewolf dance and sings and a guy who plays saxophone and runs through the crowd. They’re not very good at stage banter (bass player: “Oneida are a lot better at stage banter than we are”). And they play for a ridiculously tedious 45 minutes, way longer than any opening band ever needs to play.
The verdict: Awesome Color is not going to blow up.
The Coke Dares, a trio from Bloomington, Indiana, play burly and gleefully dumb Motorheadian punk-metal songs that average about 45 seconds in length, guitar solos included. Their jokey lyrics are about zombies and asshole mechanics and stuff like that, and their stage banter is strictly overblown fake-rock-star stuff (they just toured with Grand Buffet, which makes perfect sense). The big guitarist guy is funnier than the big bass-player guy. The three members each wear shirts with one word of the band’s name (“The” “Coke” “Dares”), and the drummer’s name is Jeff Jeff. The band relies entirely on its schtick, of course, but the schtick works; the endless barrage of unbelievably short songs just gets funnier as the set goes on (“We have seven songs left; we’ll be off the stage in five minutes”), and they never get boring. They hit squeeze a nice harmony into their choruses from time to time, but the music itself isn’t really the point.
The verdict: The Coke Dares aren’t ever going to blow up as such; I can’t picture them on MTV2. But I can see them becoming way more popular than they are; their fun, dumb appeal is hard to deny, and they’ll only get better as they grow more confident with their schtick. They’re a perfect opening band: not much of a threat to blow the headliner off the stage but virtually guaranteed to make the night more enjoyable.
The band of the night with the best chance of blowing up was Big Bear, a female-fronted Boston band that plays jagged, screamy spazzcore, almost shocking in its ferocity especially considering how mild-mannered everyone in the band seems between songs. The band’s brand of math-metal is more ragged than most of the stuff in Decibel these days, though it’s certianly more Dillinger Escape Plan than Lightning Bolt. The songs lurch unpredictably between time signatures, but the primal force of the music remains fully intact. The crowd didn’t know what to make of them, of course, but this was a Mercury Lounge crowd, so it wasn’t all that surprising.
The verdict: Big Bear isn’t going to blow up indie-style; their music is way too fierce to fit with the sniffly pastoralism that has taken over indie-rock lately. But I can see them getting on Headbangers’ Ball if someone ever throws a decent recording budget at them.
I was going to write about Oneida, too, but then they started out with an unbelievably irritating ten-minute bloopy keyboard vamp, something like what Stereolab must sound like for people who hate Stereolab. I couldn’t handle it, so I left.
Voice review: Andy Beta on Oneida’s The Wedding