Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Redwalls and We Are Scientists @ Starland Ballroom, 17 Nov 05

Noticing a rare non-teener, emo, or metal show at Sayreville's Starland Ballroom featuring Hot Hot Heat, I looked closer to find The Redwalls and We Are Scientists as the openers. Despite the fact that I can take HHH for about three songs before I wanna spike my iPod, football-style, I couldn't pass up such a sweet one-two punch of opening bands in a setting outside of crossed-armed, chin-stroking Manhattan.

Although they have enough buzz in the city to warrant end-cap status at Other Music with their import, We Are Scientists walked onto Starland's giant stage as strangers to the very young, and very Central Jersey, crowd of kids there to see the headliners whom they know from local "alternative" station "G-Rock" (one of those stations that think Shawn Mullins is hip...). Using a combination of friendly and funny banter and straight-up rockin', WAS won the crowd over quicker than any "unknown" band I've ever seen.

They played a crazy-fun, 35 minute set of songs from their album, With Love And Squalor, which bassist Chris Cain told me after the set should be released here in the US on January 10 on Virgin. He also said they are penciled-in to headline Bowery Ballroom (where they opened for Ambulance, Ltd earlier this month) a few days after the record's out. The album's a good one, and the single "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt" is catchy as hell, and features a great video of the band being chased by a giant plush bear.

The Redwalls, having rolled into town mere minutes before taking the stage without a proper soundcheck, also ripped it up with a very tight set of folky rock songs that veer toward that countrified punk sound Ryan Adams hits when he's not sure whether he wants to be Hank Williams or Joe Strummer, but with the bonus of poppy harmonies. The nine-song set slowly gathered momentum, hitting a high-point with back-to-back covers of Bob Dylan's "Down in the Flood" and Bobby Troup's oft-covered "Route 66" and closing with fan-favorites "Falling Down" and "Deep".

Though not quite recieving the reception We Are Scientists were given, the crowd seemed pleased with discovering a second band to find on iTunes once they got home. Their album De Nova was recently heralded by king punk Steve Jones as "essential", and hopefully The Redwalls' non-stop touring will bring them the attention they and their record rightly deserve.

After The Redwalls set, I polished off my drink, said some goodbyes, and headed for the door before the teen-screams for the entrance of Hot Hot Heat hit hard. I passed Cain working the WAS merch table and was thrilled to see him totally surrounded two-fans-deep by kids eager to get more info and snatch up shirts and their tour EP. It's about time somebody hipped up that part of Jersey...

The Redwalls:

We Are Scientists:

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