It turns out Spokane does go out on weeknights. Enough people to pack the house came out to Outback Jack’s for the Chalk Farm, Wild Colonials and Greg show on Monday night.
Not surprising, considering all the radio hype it got. For once, a show actually deserved a little hyperbole, because it was among the better bills to spring up in a local club in some time.
Post-concert reflection left me with one question, however: Why did Chalk Farm top the bill and not the Wild Colonials?
Sure, Chalk Farm’s hit “Lie on Lie” made a bigger splash in this market than Wild Colonials “Charm.” But let’s face it, Chalk Farm, which, to its credit, turned in an energetic set, is really this week’s Dishwalla or Better Than Ezra. Plus, Chalk Farm couldn’t equate the intoxicating and atmospheric display of Wild Colonials.
Wild Colonials is one of the few major-label bands marketed as “alternative” that’s worth paying attention to. What’s refreshing, the five-piece combo doesn’t sound like the industry’s version of alternative rock: angst-ridden singer backed by distortion-encrusted twin guitars. Heck, this band’s lead guitar is a violin.
And its hit “Charm,” which the band got out of the way early in Monday’s set, is the only real fluff on its second album on Geffen, “This Can’t Be Life.” It ain’t a great song. It’s also not an indication of rest of the album.
Wild Colonials intrigued the 200 or so people in attendance, imbuing Celtic and Middle Eastern rhythms with a sonic rock ‘n’ roll punch. Their songs were laden with moody imagery, lush and exotic textures and passionate performances.
Monday, singer Angela McCluskey asserted herself as one of music’s distinguished and under-rated vocalists. Her golden throat was especially tenacious while navigating stormy material. And, no, she didn’t sing like Natalie Merchant, as some critics have stated.
The rest of the band - Shark (guitars), Thaddeus Corea (drums and percussion), Scott Roewe (bass, keyboards, sax and didgeridoo) and Paul Cantelon (violin) - dispensed a majestic performance. One of the bountiful high points occurred when Roewe introduced “Spirit” with the guttural rumblings of a didgeridoo.
Other highlights included “This Misery” and “If.”
Perhaps playing the middle slot on a Monday worked to the band’s advantage, for it seemed like quite a few people disappeared during Chalk Farm’s set.
Local hardcore punk outfits Cause and Inti Fada will duke it out at the Coeur d’Alene Cultural Community Center on Saturday. Both bands share a joint EP together. They will also appear on a hardcore compilation LP, highlighting the country’s young crop of disenchanted bands. Music starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $4.
Birdwatching song catchers
Champion Birdwatchers - I like that name. Although it’s not quite as brilliant as Fistful of Norwegians, it’s still a great name.
Yet sometimes clever names can be the proverbial kiss of death, a cover-up for a mediocre band.
Champion Birdwatchers, which plays Outback Jack’s on Tuesday, aren’t mediocre by any stretch. Though, the musicians do have their shortcomings.
Lyrics are soaked with Christian overtones and are a bit campy and self-righteous. Sometimes they’re plain goofy. For example: “I am wandering beyond the stratosphere.” OK boys, come back down to Earth.
But the band is young, and developing writing savvy takes time.
Musically the Champion Birdwatchers forge a cathartic sound reminiscent of Seattle emo-core bands Sunny Day Real Estate, Hush Harbor and Engine Kid.
Champion Birdwatchers just put its recorded stamp on a new, foursong tape. It’s called “Perihelion” and it’s available in stores in the area.
Flourish and Tribal Essence open. Music starts at 9:30 p.m. The cover is $2.
Vancouver, B.C.’s quirky, Celtic pop band the Clumsy Lovers, which plays Outback Jack’s tonight, has been playing musical names. The combo began as the Clumsy Lovers and then changed its name to the Six Million Dollar Band. Since another band had already claimed the moniker, the band has gone back to Clumsy Lovers. Phew.
If that’s confusing, don’t fret. The band, which has gained an enthusiastic following here, remains the same.
Tiana Gregg and Henry’s Child open. Music starts at 9:03 p.m. The cover is $4.
Big Dipper to open?
If you’ve been pondering the destiny of the vacant gray building - once known as the Big Dipper - sitting idle on the northeast corner of Second Avenue, get ready for this: Nightwatch recently learned that it will be re-opening soon. Details are sketchy; we’ll keep you posted.