Saturday February 5th, 2000 at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS
Proudentall, The String and Return & The Palindromes

Proudentall Proudentall String and Return The Palindromes [more]

Advertised opener Bandit Teeth weren't able to play as a band member moved away. Whether the band is now looking for a replacement or they have called it quits I can't tell you. I can tell you however that The Palindromes were a worthy replacement.

Although the members of The Palindromes must have an average age of under 18, their vocalist/guitarist tried to dominate the audience early and called for everyone to come up to the stage. Surprisingly a smattering of attendees (about a dozen) did come forward. The crowd interaction however stopped there; if a band wants an audience to come forward for their set, they need to give them a show, and The Palindromes have chosen to mold themselves into a genre founded on ambivalence.

The Palindromes do provide pretty pop melodies with just the right amount of added slacker attitude to let you know they're not The Partridge Family. In fact the band seems to have learned nearly everything about music from Pavement. But unlike the personal (if not obtuse) nature of Stephan Malkmus' lyrics, The Palindromes' vocalist is very obvious when he sings matter-of-factly about hating The Doors or The Grateful Dead.

Young bands often use a particular genre or even another band when defining their sound, and the goods ones soon deviate enough from the cookie-cutter mold to establish a niche for themselves. The Palindromes have already proven they can kick out the tunes, now it's time to prove they have a vision and direction of their own.

The String and Return set up next and I immediately noticed guitarist Mat Wolber had traded in his white Les Paul for a Fender Telecaster. I always enjoy the contract of a two guitar band between a clean thin Fender sound and a full Gibson sound so I worried about a twin Fender assault, and to some end I was justified. The enveloping bits weren't quite the same but played through a Hi-Watt amplifier, the Telecaster wasn't terribly thin either.

The String and Return have so many things going for them. Andrew Ashby's high smooth voice, Mike Myers's incredible drumming, Matt's excellent guitar riffs however I'm not sure song-writing is one of them. Their songs develop very slowly and go almost no where. In a live setting that can be a terribly hard sell, but to their credit they do present it well and the audience does always seem engaged. I found myself wishing I was lying on my LazyBoy™ and listening to the band loudly in my living room with eyes closed. It's definitely bliss out, trip out music that you want to wash over you.

Proudentall popped on stage for their CD release party with a dirty little CDs. As always (and trust me, I know this business) a "mix-up at the pressing plant" delayed the shipment of the CDs to the band. I'll tell you my own dirty little secret, 90% of the time that "mix-up at the plant" was really the record label trying to push a deadline. To placate the audience Proudentall offered to play the songs of their CD in entirety and in order. While a live setlist and the track order of a CD typically are very different beasts, it seemed only the right for the evening.

For fans who have seen the band recently, the set (and CD) was the fruition of those nights. Although most songs have not changed much since their first debut months back, others were notably comprised of bits cannibalized from since abandoned songs. Still more were new songs that never had been performed. Most for good reason, as they just weren't songs for a stage but instead bridge pieces that carried and continued the ever darkening moods of the bands music.

Three things are guaranteed at any Proudentall show. First that guitarist/vocalist Matt Dunehoo will have trouble with his guitar. Second that Matt will say the oddest things into the microphone between songs. And third that ever-fan Greg Franklin will find his way on stage.

The scene played out like this: Matt did bring a string but had a spare guitar so the set never really slowed down. Four rounds of shots were purchased by "friends" in the audience and Matt's tongue loosened allowing him to talk about alligator nipples or some such. Are there any non-mammals who have nipples? And Greg's presence on stage was the impromptu highlight of the night.

After Proudentall had played their set, they ducked off the stage while the crowd called out for more. At that time Greg jumped out from behind the drum riser and began a very wicked rock drum solo. Thirty seconds into the solo the sound man jumped on the light board and had the stage pulsing, and flashing in colour. This was of course the most action the stage had seen all night. After about two minutes Proudentall were ready to return to the stage and Greg finished big before handing the drum sticks back to Proudentall drummer John Cruz.

The band returned rubber masks with over their heads and began playing older material not on the CD. While this must have seemed like a good idea at one time, the lights are hot, and voices don't travel well through tiny mouth holes and the disguises were soon tossed to the side of the stage. The band played for another 20 minutes or so obliging the audience of fans' requests for old favourites.

Before heading off to the after-show party [it being already 2am, I opted to skip that one], Matt reminded the audience that they were playing The Replay soon and they promised to have CDs at that show. We'll find out.