Two bands from New York and one band from Toronto come to the Red Palace on a warming Saturday night. There is a festive crowd present looking for some good pop music tonight. I am looking for the usual alchemical combination of originality and accessibility. There are lots of choices in indie rock music and pop bands, and it is nice to see tonight did indeed offer some good choices in these fields.
Dinosaur Bones is a five-piece from my personal musical Mecca that most people call Toronto. They line up with a couple guitars and keyboards and rhythm section and there was plenty of sound. They put that sound in the comfortable direction of indie rock, but they kicked it up a notch by first song’s end. There was some good ringing guitar with some nice off-setting bass and rhythm guitar that showed both some nice musical ideas and good comfort between the musicians. Toronto bands seem to feature this every time. There is not really a “Toronto sound”, but with so much quality music coming from that town (like my favorites Elliott Brood and Do Make Say Think) there seems to be a healthy competition for bands to come up with great music before they ever hit a stage there. No matter the cause, this band has a great approach with its mix of styles and genres and showed it off to about 50 people tonight. This is the band’s third time through DC, so they are working hard on the road and hopefully it will pay off for them.
Another five-piece with an identical instrumental line-up is up next, although they played an entirely different style of music. Snowmine had a much more lush pop sound with a touch of shoegaze, dance rhythms, and some edgy pop moves. They are from Brooklyn and showed that they can ratchet up the rock content as well on a few songs. The keyboardist handled the lead vocals and guided the dreamy nature of the pop song melodies they put forward. The crowd slowly grew throughout the night and a few of them danced and swayed with the sounds. The set lacked brilliance, but was steady with a few very nice songs standing out. It is very hard to not like this on some level, as the competence is there along with a positive attitude. Many more hits than misses in this set.
The Postelles are from New York City and followed the same type of back-line without a keyboardist this time. But yet again, there were some style differences easily noted from the first two bands. They immediately began by grinding out chords with nice clean pop vocals on top. This is power-pop, but as the set went on, the Postelles were able to vary their sounds to represent just about every decade of pop from the 1950s onward. From their cover of “Houndog” to the rest of their originals, they displayed a subtle versatility while always keeping the music accessible and fun. The crowd was amazingly attentive for a Saturday night and was one of the more diverse crowds I have seen for lesser known bands. They clearly enjoyed this band and all the diverse music tonight. I was also surprised that the encore of the Ramones “Beat on the Brat” was one of the best received songs of the night. I should not be by now, but as someone who beat my head against a wall trying to get people to go to early Ramones shows in small clubs, I still have trouble with the posthumous reverence. The Postelles are touring with their debut album and if this was any indication of their sound and audience reaction, they will probably need a bigger club to hold them by album two or three.