Rotary Downs Pt. 2

The Mermaid Lounge

December 03, 2004

It was a great night for rock in New Orleans. Before Pleasure Club played an explosive show at The Howlin' Wolf, Rotary Downs performed their best show yet at The Mermaid Lounge. While old school Rotary Downs put me into an enjoyable stupor with their depressing, pensive, Paxil-induced trot, Friday night's version got my blood flowing with celebratory and more upbeat songs. I had never heard them play so many new songs before, and maybe that's why they came off so well. It's not just the upbeat material that made their set so enjoyable. The band keeps getting tighter and tighter. Even though they're not planning on touring extensively outside the city, they will be the best rock band in New Orleans within a year. I don't see any other bands making the kind of obvious progress Rotary Downs is making. The rhythm section of drummer Zack Smith and bassist Jason Rhein was intelligent and not afraid to lay down a nasty groove, and pianist/trumpeter Matt Aguiluz was the texture king with appropriate synthesizer toppings and catchy melodies. Man, I've still got his heralding trumpet line from one of the new songs in my head--right now. I just played it. Great stuff.

One song was, dare I say it, a funky dance number. I looked behind me at the rest of the audience with a questioning look. Was it OK to dance at a Rotary Downs show? Now it was. Some of their new stuff is straight-up fun, and I'm going with it. Hey, I can't help it if they like Michael Jackson's "Off The Wall."

The future's so bright...

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