Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Coast is Always Changing

Maximo Park @ Tonic 6/10/05
Well after missing their pre-SXSW shows here back in March and after finally hearing their terrific debut album A Certain Trigger (though it only came out a few weeks ago here in the U.S.), the wait was finally over and I managed to catch the 1st night of their 2-night stand at Tonic, a club I'd never been to before that's better known for playing host to avant-garde, experimental artists (think any of Thurston Moore's side projects or venerated guitarist Elliott Sharp playing a musical adaptation of The Fibonacci sequence) as opposed to (relatively) straightforward UK post-punk/indie bands like Maximo Park. This venue was in danger of closing (though when I spoke to one of their staffers about a month ago, they said that they were ok for now and have managed to stay open) and honestly, if the attitudes of the entire staff approximate those of the person who was working the door and sitting behind the box office (he took my ticket and when I asked if I could keep my stub, he ripped it in such a fashion that only half of the part of the stub that I got to keep was visible; asshole), then good riddance. I mean, don't get me wrong, I hate what's happening to the Lower East Side with great clubs like the Luna Lounge (where there was never a cover and they booked good bands and there was no BS dress code or fashionista vibe as you find in so many placed down there these days) closing and being replaced by places with velvet ropes, but I also hate clubs and people that are so snobby that they think they're cooler than everyone else and this place definitely had it in spades, much like some of the record stores I try not to frequent too often in both the East and West Village (names will be omitted to protect the guilty; ha). Also, negative points go to this place for not having any beer on tap (though at least they had Bass in a bottle) and for having a relatively long bathroom line (2 bathrooms with only 1 stall each and the one I used was filthy and cramped, too; yuck).

Regardless, the sound in this place is excellent, so if you can brave the avant snobs and bathroom lines and bottled beer and a band or artist you like is playing, then at least they'll sound great. And fortunately, Maximo Park not only sounded great, but they placed a killer, ace, 45 to 50 minute set (with one 2-song encore) in which they managed to play every single song from their album except for the Peter Gabriel-ish "Acrobat" as well as 2 B-sides ("Fear of Falling" and "I Want You to Leave") and 2 brand new songs as well. The energy they had was unbelievable and fortunately, singer Paul Smith and keyboardist Lukas Woller were able to curtail their Devo-esque hand gesturing and strutting down to a minimum. Sound-wise, they remind me of everyone from The Dickies and Devo to on a few songs The Smiths (one song borrows the riff from "This Charming Man"), any C86 band and The Jam (as well as more recent contemporaries), but they have a sound that's distinctly their own and lyrically, Paul Smith is an adept writer of adolescent and young adult struggles at the art of romance, making their songs feel more personal than those of many of their contemporaries. I can't wait to for them to come back here! And plus, Paul graciously signed my "Apply Some Pressure" CD ep after the show and guitarist Duncan Lloyd was very nice as well. In short, if they come anywhere near you and even if you don't know them and you like the current crop of post-punk/new-wave revivalists coming out of the UK (or the older bands I cited above), you must see them!


Anonymous Mark said...

Again, another great review Matt, keep it up! I missed their first Mercury Lounge show, too, which is why I decided to see both Tonic shows (on Saturday night, the band didn't take the stage until almost 2am!). But it was worth seeing both nights.

However, I *should* have seen Go-Betweens on Sat night at Southpaw, though I already had a ticket for Friday's Mercury show, before I even knew Maximo were playing. Thankfully, the Go-B's played a nice long set on Fri, so even though I missed the first 30 min., due to Maximo starting late, I still got to see them play for just over an hour! So everything worked out fine.

7:09 PM


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