They scream a lot, but, like, melodically.
Babe the Blue Ox
The Bell House
Saturday, January 3
Love this band. Infectious pop spiked with equal parts blissful soul and dissonant, acerbic noise-rock tomfoolery. Had a major-label go of it in the late ’90s to no avail (The Way We Were is the jam, “Basketball” in particular), disappeared for a long spell, and recently reunited, but in a refreshingly casual way, gathering a small but respectful crowd of mostly friends and co-conspirators at the sweet new Gowanus (?!) hotspot on a Saturday night still enveloped in a post-holiday coma, the Colts and the Chargers just easing into overtime as the power-trio-turned-quartet lurched into the fantastically grumpy and volatile “Betty Davis.” A splendid way to start the concertgoing year. The only jerkoff blogger there was, uh, me.
When last I ran into these guys, back in May, bassist Rose Thomson was tremendously pregnant, a considerable obstacle for such a physical player (she specializes in comic-book sounds: THWACK, SHWONNG, etc.). Evidently that all turned out alright, though she’s now got a new song called “Bad Mom.” (“I’m supposed to civilize you/But I’m just laughing along.”) At one point singer-guitarist Tim Thomas invites requests, and for the first time in years and years I actually shout one — hopefully my cry of “Fuck This Song” was not misinterpreted. (They do not indulge me, probably because they have not yet relearned it.) The set is sloppy and half-assed in exactly the right way: To punctuate the encore of the Pretenders’ “The Wait,” percussionist Eddie Gormley abandons all attempts at precision, simply picking up his box of tambourines, cowbells, etc. and shaking it vigorously. This sums up their approach pretty well. No longer much of a point to acting civilized.