Octastival, Pt. 1

One Eyed Jacks

June 01, 2007


The Fantastic Ooze, The City Life, and The Tomatoes paled in comparison to The Bally Who, who were the highlight of Octastival at One Eyed Jacks Friday night.

The Fantastic Ooze opened up the show with a strange mix of electro, garage, and dance music. It was an experiment gone wrong--like Beck but without much songwriting talent.

Some of the music was catchy, but most of the time it seemed forced, like the band was trying too hard. Even though I appreciated the band's energy, it was enough that the songs didn't grab me.

Next up was The Bally Who, who played an inspired set. They scooped up all the college self-conscious worry of cool in the air and set it on fire. They weren't cool. They're weren't un-cool. They were, more importantly, alive and kinetic and passionate and bouncing and about to burst.

Lead singer Bryan Spitzfaden stalked the stage(his wide eyes showed he was very serious about capturing the moment), played the synthesizer, and beautifully motivated poetry. At one point, I think he got a bunch of the crowd to chant "Yes!" over and over. Drummer Arthur Mintz was the only other member of the group who matched Spitzfaden in energy. I don't think if I've seen someone beat the drums so hard before. Mintz played with amazing feel, like no matter how frenzied he got he would always land right. He's my favorite local rock drummer at the moment.

The Bally Who has such a talented rhythm section(bassist Alex Smith, as well) that the brothers Duffourc can play loose and know that the song will stay tight.

It was great to see guitarist Jacques taking advantage of the moment. There was a point where he started hopping around, body going different directions at once, like a decapitated chicken. This display of spontaneous joy is what makes me love this group.

The Bally Who reeled the crowd in when they played "Hi-ya," which was about acquiescing in relationships. Spitzfaden took the opportunity to do a buncha karate moves, the highlight being the crane kick.

I felt bad for whoever was gonna hafta follow The Bally Who. It was The City Life, who I've been on the fence about for a while. You could say that The Bally Who knocked them down to the disappointing side. The City Life actually played some well-crafted dance rock that reminded me of Franz Ferdinand or The Strokes, but I think they might have played it too well. They were on auto-pilot, and when I saw the lead singer dance around or swagger on the mic, I didn't buy it. Was the guitar player even alive? I pictured him saying, "I hate this band," as he was playing. This band better start enjoying themselves or find charisma quick.

Last up was The Tomatoes, who I've said everything I need to say about already. It still stands that I like their older music more than their newer stuff. Their song "Back to Baghdad" was rockin' that night, and the lyrics still resonate, unfortunately. I'd like to say that the guys in that band are really nice and fun to hang out with. Will, Woody, and George--you should meet them. I wish them the best. They deserve it.

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