Looking back on the show from Saturday night at North Star Bar, I’m trying to figure out what exactly was the common thread behind the three bands being booked together. If there was anything that gave cohesion, it may have been each of their sense ironic retro, or their insistent four-on-the-floor rhythmic pulse. In any event, opening band, Prowler, who if they’re not from Brooklyn, should be, had at times a nice mix of disco electronics and guitar funk and other times had a Dead Kennedys’ vibe, with metal guitar riffs and arm-flailing front-man stage presence.
Middle act, Deap Valley, was interesting in that they started their set while my back was turned to them. I was eating a burger, ok? I wasn’t to be disturbed. The interesting thing was the striking similarity of their sound and The White Stripes. Their high-pitched, wailing vocalist, their bluesy power-riffs, and the two piece – drum/guitar schtick was all in place. Literally, they could have been The White Stripes. But they weren’t, cus when I turned around they were clearly attractive females in hotpants. Not even subdued, modest hotpants…like full-on-ass-cheeks hanging out, hotpants. By the time they finished, the audience, both male and female were swooning. What summed up their set was a comment I overheard later on while standing by their merch table. “I might not have had the same reaction to them if I had heard them on iTunes first,” someone said. I’ll leave it at that. They were good, don’t get me wrong, but certain things took the performance to the next level in the eyes and ears of many audience members, shall we say.
That brought up Free Energy, for the first time ever onto the stage at North Star Bar. Free Engery, who is something of a hometown hero, being that they are signed to James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem’s DFA record label, all while writing fun, hooky, danceable rock music. I never quite understood the connection between them being on that label, though I suppose Murphy can do whatever he wants at this point to indulge his retro rock fantasies. In reality, they’re just a fun band, complete with high top sneakers, jump kicks and fret-board finger-tapping solos. In the same way the Rolling Stones dance like white-boys with no rhythm, but actually have it in spades, Free Energy are deceptively good musicians who exude a goofy sincerity that is infectious to their core-audience. To put it succinctly, they are perfect music to have on as background barbecue music.
All in all, it was an enjoyable evening and each band brought something unique to the table, whether it be hightops, hotpants or sweaty funk.