Better than... not keeping it country.
Last night east-coast rockers Dive, who have been building a strong buzz through publications like Pitchfork, played a surprising set at The Satellite. They are a group of thin white guys from Brooklyn -- a trope that has, deserved or not, come to symbolize the nightmarish outpouring of mediocre indie-rock that we've been forced to endure. The thing is, Dive didn't sound like your run-of-the-mill re-appropriated this-is-from-New York-so-it-must be good indie garbage.
Their jangly off-kilter songs were more shoe-gaze meets psychedelic rock. They weren't afraid to break out or get excellently noisy, as they did when they played a Nirvana cover which was so mired in sound that it was unrecognizable. And drummer Colby Hewitt, who used to play with garage-rockers Smith Westerns, added a heavy (and welcome) rambunctious thump to the set.
There was also a surf-y element to their sound, not overly obvious but clearly evident, which makes you wonder if (gasp) the West Coast is actually influencing New York a bit. Dive is a relatively new band, been together less than a year, so they could have easily heard the glut of dark surf music that's been coming out of Southern California -- The Growlers, Gothic Tropic, Tijuana Panthers. Perhaps it's wishful thinking, and Dive definitely served up whatever doom they offered with a side of sugar.
Now it's time for a bonus review!
Jackson Tanner & Gypsy River Haunts
After the crowd let out at The Satellite, near midnight, word spread that another show was about to start at The Overpass. The Overpass is a deliciously strange little place, an abandoned Knights of Columbus lodge converted into a DIY venue complete with bouncy particle-board floors. The bartenders scan your credit-card with an iPhone and closing time is well-past 2 a.m.
Last night two country bands played: Jackson Tanner and Gypsy River Haunts; both bands include L.A.-by-way-of-Idaho transplants. Jackson Tanner is an unapologetic pop-country -- their songs "Baseball Field" and "Bartender" sound like they would be right at home next to Brad Paisley on a country radio top 20 countdown.
To my knowledge, they are one of the only working pop-country band based in Los Angeles. The best song of their set was "My Kind Of Crazy", which lead singer Brian McGinnis (who with his cap tucked low over his eyes looked like he would be right at home on a shooting range or driving a tractor) admitted was about his girlfriend. It was a moment of rough and tumble tenderness.
Gypsy River Haunts came on as the night approached the wee hours. It was lead singer Andrew Sheppard's birthday; the crowd swilled their beers along with him and danced to the Haunts rockabilly style of country music, complete with stand-up bass. It was a proper end to a down-home night in the big city.
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Personal Bias: I hate bad indie rock and grew to love pop-country during a cross-country drive when it was all I could pick up on the radio.
The Crowd: At The Satellite publicists and writers and late-twenties couples; at The Overpass boots and hats and lots of pretty girls.
Random Notebook Dump: Two of the members of Jackson Tanner also play with alt-country band Olin and The Moon.