Tennis System, Sleepy Sun And Death Of Yeti At The Firebird, 8/26/11
Sometimes it's fun to go to a show with a small crowd. Your friends are easier to find. There's no wait at the bar. And you seem to talk to people more because it's like, Hey, we're all in this together. Let's make somethin' happen. There is a kind of easy, community feeling that you can't get when you're crammed in a crowded room, covered in other people's sweat and wondering who in the hell is touching your ass.
Surely, there is a place for both kinds of shows. But if there is a young band from out of state on the bill, it's always nice to hope for too crowded. Touring dudes/dudettes gotta get paid. They need money for fuel and van repairs and gas station Slim Jims. So the more people who are there and buy their record, the better.
The Tennis System didn't get to play to a lot of people, but these kids killed it to a crowd of about 30 last night at the Firebird. It's rare that you see a band and think I will now see this band every dang time it comes to town, but the Tennis System is that band. Live, the band is even more vibrant and alive than on recordings. All of the shoegaze haze is still there, but the big drum beat bursts through, propelling the band into something much more tough than ordinary fuzz and distortion. Looking much more like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club than Euro cuties like Slowdive or Ride, the band members wore all black clothes, leather jackets and smiles. It was great. This band might have invented a new genre: bootgaze. We want more.
Opener Death of Yeti was psychedelic without any kind of noodling. There didn't seem to be a lot of unnecessary straying, no so-called "freak outs." Just straight ahead, trippy tunes fronted by a singer with a very Morrisey-esque voice -- it sounded like Bona Drag on mushrooms.
Sleepy Sun started out a little too sleepy. It was late in the night, the room was still wide open and hardly anybody was drunk. The younger people in the audience seemed a little worn out from bopping to Tennis System and the crowd really needed some fire to get warmed up. Sleepy Sun delivered the goods, but the band made the crowd wait for it. It was a slow build, but this group can certainly keep your attention, even if it's keeping you guessing about what kind of sound it might come out with next. From the Black Angels to Muse to '70s rock to even a little bit of alt-country, Sleepy Sun's sound is confusing, schizophrenic and kinda cool. Truly a band for all weather: if you don't like it, you can wait five minutes and it will change.