I'm just not sure how to preface this review. So here are the facts. It's one of them Lazer local music shows broadcast live on the air. It's free and all-ages. It's the first one to happen with the students back. It's a rainy day and I drove over by myself listening to the new Pavement.
Proudentall started just after 7:30 as Greg and Mike from The Believe It Or Nots slipped out for an on-air interview with The Lazer. Proudentall started their set off with a newer song and seemed a little nervous. They constantly asked how long they had before they went live over the air. Once they got the cue and the crowd started hollering as instructed things changed and they played with more energy and resolve like it meant something. It wasn't that they were showing off for the radio, it was the energy they needed from the crowd. Matt was still nervous and said a few silly things but he generally babbles at all shows so nothing too unusual.
After they completed the three or four songs that went live over the air the set got even better - suddenly the band seemed like they were back at The Bottleneck surrounded by no one but friends. The band locked into a vibe with the audience which was feeding off of their intense, real and emotional music. It seemed like anyone who would let themselves, was totally caught up in the band, in the music, and in the moment. It was very nice.
The band played mostly as the stripped down three piece though on various tracks they were joined by violin (played by Breeze who joined them for "Say Something" as she did on their 7"), trombone (by honorary member Mike Walker) and a second guitar (featuring is-he-or-isn't-he-in-the-band Steve). At one point Mike Walker tried to mention on-air that Breeze had just returned from "saving the world" (she had been out doing redwood action or some such) but was cut off by Jeff at the Lazer. Bands 0, Lazer 1.
The Believe it or Nots set up without the benefit of sound check and were a little antsy to get started. Despite playing opening slots for large bands (Archers of Loaf, Poster Children, Soul Coughing etc.) this was probably the biggest gig of their career and it comes as their 2nd to last. The crowd was full of friends from way back and that had to help some, of course it also meant they were goaded into playing several very old pop-punk songs that aren't remotely similar to their current style. It was all fun though.
Greg Franklin worked the large [easily 250+] crowd very well, making jokes, soliciting audience participation and passing the time between live on-the-air performances with the Lazer. Their setlist was completely reworked to allow Terra Incognito, Signals Mixed and Blackberry Sage (all from the CD) to be played in the middle of the set, back to back, creating a powerful punch.
When on the air, Greg told the listening audience "You can request all of these songs." and continued with "This might get me in trouble, but if you're tired of hearing Limp Bizkit call and request something else. They will play what you want". Bands 1, Lazer 1.
The band was coaxed into a uptempo Madonna cover by a fan yelling "Mikey. Like a Prayer. Come on dawg!" and from that point on it was simply a band in overdrive. This wasn't their last show but they played like it. During their final number, Hand Me My Broadsword, Chad (a.k.a. the dancing cow) joined them on stage on guitar increasing the general mayhem level. Greg trumped him by jumping from a stack of monitors over John's drum kit, then spinning his guitar around his neck ripping out the straplocks sending the telecaster tumbling to the ground and knocking over cymbals. Mikey took his telecaster by the headstock and smashed the body against the drum riser cracking the neck, and it was all pleasant. It wasn't one of those pissed off moments of band intensity and mutilation, more of a moment of extreme celebration.
Amidst the applause and hum of feedback, Chad approached the mic and said "It's not often that I get a stage this big..." and proceeded to explain that the Kansas School Board bowing to religious fundamentalists and allowing evolution not to be taught in schools was a close-minded injustice. However he really didn't get his message out, the crowd was noisy, the mic was pulled and the vibe was just all wrong. Final score: bands 1, Lazer 2.
The backstage, onstage and elsewhere in the Granada the mood was great as folks bought CDs and T-shirts, old friends congratulated the band, new fans apologized for not seeing the band sooner, and a few young grrls had their CDs autographed. After about a half hour of visiting we noticed another band was trying to get on stage to play a benefit for the Human Society. I helped load both bands' gear in the rain before heading over to Matt's house for a little post-show party and then heading home to note my alarm would be going off in 3 hours. Ugh!