“What would music be if The Beatles had never been The Beatles?” is a question that’s been pestering me since I saw Yesterday (which punts it). On Friday night at Café Nine, a trio of Connecticut rock/power-pop bands tossed out some hints toward the answer, along with the deathless line “free posters, one dollar!” (tm Chris Cook of The Grand Par).
“But how… if power-pop is inspired by early Beatles and The Who…” Exactly. Power pop came out of a cultural moment in the early 1960s, so it would still exist in a Beatles-free world. These bands make it through the black-out! (I also strongly recommend the experience of small-club shows for replicating the raw energy that audiences must have felt in early 1960s rock shows — no, our local guys aren’t the iconic Beatles, but in Hamburg in 1960, neither were The Beatles.)
Dangerous Animals’ fusion of dance-punk with rock explains why frontman Mike Holler was hollering at Big Fang to play an encore for them to dance to. (And dance they did.) Dangerous Animals is Holler, Conner McTaggart (guitar), Mike Schulz (bass guitar), and Mitch Igneri (drums). They’re based in Storrs, but play down in New Haven pretty often.
I’d swear “Out of Hand,” from their EP Thick Thieves on the Bricktops, incorporates a distorted version of the Jeopardy theme. You truly can dance to this song–there’s a solid dance beat behind the wall of guitars.
Dangerous Animals also did an awesome cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” — I’m saving it for a special post, but your reward for reading this far is a sneak peek.
This sound, right here, is something that would have had a significant moment in the Yesterday universe, making Jack’s “Back in the USSR” far less of a revelation. The Grand Par is Scott Daly (vocals, guitar, and he’s big in China for solo folk-pop project Arms & Legs), Chris Cook (bass, vocals), and Wes Cross (drums, vocals). There is a promise of a record in the future. These are New Haven locals, so it’s easy and fun to show up to hear them play.
I loved Big Fang’s debut EP, Human Distance (which I talk about here), and the post-punk, alt-rock energy is real on stage. I’ll admit, in the hustle and bustle of checking out new-to-me bands, there’s delight in getting to the act where I actually know some of the songs!
Big Fang is Tony Mascolo (guitar, vocals), Grayson Jeffries (more guitar, more vocals), Chris Otero (bass), and Jacob Doherty (drums). They’re based in western Connecticut, and the “wandering” in the lyric might apply (in a good way) to their touring, since they hit large portions of the state, plus Brooklyn. This is “Emergency,” which captures some of the REM-like momentum of the band.