Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We Barbarians. We SUCK.

Hankering to receive a healthy injection of dirty vodka martini straight into my blood stream, a friend and I made the short drive from his house in Costa Mesa on Monday night down to Detroit Bar, an ultimate hipster hangout/venue complete with early 1950s television sets showing muted Ed Wood sci-fi movies and live performances of unknown 80s new wave androgynous hair bands behind a wrap-around bar adjacent to a small stage where local and indie bands play almost nightly. This particular night was resident live music night, a Monday night weekly showcase featuring bands from the Orange County and surrounding areas.

I've been gravitating towards Detroit Bar lately; it's close to my friends' dwellings, the vibe is usually positive, and the bands are usually entertaining and easy on the ears. I saw the Handsome Furs headline to a half-capacity crowd in April at this venue, and everything from the sound system to their performance energy and witty banter from this Canadian married duo was enjoyable, causing me to subsequently re-discover my love for their album "Plague Park". Detroit Bar's resident live music night, however, continues to seriously disappoint. And it wasn't just the music that made me feel like covering all exposed orifices and running in terror for my life. Please, someone, anyone...give me shelter from this shitstorm.

The band that was opening for the headlining act was a group from Long Beach called We Barbarians, a name that is surely supposed to be a nod to their lead singer's vocal stylings. Honestly, this guy sounded like he was attempting to personify the onomatopeic nature of the word barbarian, mumbling loudly through his scruffy beard into a microphone that was turned up waayyy too high for how irritating his voice was. I leaned over to my friend to note how ironic it was that most small venues tend to have sound issues, and that in this case the typical problem of being unable to decipher the singers lyrics was reversed; no matter where in the bar one decided to stand (even in the back room near the pool tables) one couldn't escape having flinching and face-scrunching reactions to this band.

Technically, the drummer was spot on with his child's-sized drum set that was miked flawlessly, reminding me of the repetitive yet somewhat complex nature of The Dodo's tightly honed Logan Kroeber, who tends to utilize his sticks on his smaller snares more frequently than his moderate bass drum kicks. And when the lead singer would step away from his mike and actually sync himself rhymically with the rest of the band, musically it wasn't bad. Maybe a bit too much noise and distortion pedal for my taste, but sonically definitely not as ear-drum shattering as that guys voice. It wasn't so much that he was screaming; his singing (and I hesitate to call it that) was more of a droning low-end whine that was not at all timed well with the music. And maybe they were attempting to be ironic, who knows. But for me, the point of music in general is give my ears a treat. I rushed away from the stage after only a few songs (each one not much different from the next) promising my ears something soothing and worth their while once we got back to the car.

That night, it really wasn't just the music that made me want to run for the hills. The general appearance of everyone in the building, the judging eyes; the styled to perfection hair cuts; the tight-as-shit pants sported on every other guy in the place accompanied by stretched out-looking shirts with holes in the collars above a faded logo of a foreign locale that might have been vintage if you didn't know we were in Orange County and they most likely spent not $4 but $40 to look like that kind heroine-recovering, cigarette-smoking, I-really-care-a-huge-deal-what-you-think-of-me-but-pretend-that-I-don't douche bag who won't talk to you if you don't know what PitchforkMedia is; the girls who look like they need a foot long sandwich (or seven) with their rib cages substituting for cleavage, the cut-off denim shorts ripped so short that the pockets hang out (again with the heroine-chic, guys), the knocking knees that can barely support their withered frame above ankle boots that make them look, I'm sorry, more elvish than sexy; the kids dressed in all black who could easily be art school drop-outs with smudged eye make-up (on the men and women) puffing away on their cigarettes while silently surveying the crowd to find exactly who is watching them and standing in awe of their amazing coolness who I come to find are the headlining act. I finished my vodka martini as swiftly as possible, discarded half of my suddenly unappealing cigarette and got the hell outta Dodge.


Diana Marie said...

oh hipsters and barbarians. sounds a little like someone i used to date...the barbarian part, and definitely not the hipster part. who thinks a 35 year old red neck is hip? not me.

Unknown said...

really? we barbarians and dodos both opened for the les savy fav show when i saw them they were great. i even bought their cd! i'll let you listen to the record it's quite good.

Katharine Relth said...

I went home and listened to their stuff on myspace after the show, and I honestly couldn't stomach it. I don't mind if an artist has an alternative sound to their voice, but his was just too loud, too drunk-sounding, too horrible.