Saturday, May 24, 2003

I'M IN A POPULAR TV SERIES, TOO: James Marsters, Spike off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has taken the road travelled by Russell Crowe, Keanu Reeves, Billy Bob Thornton and other actors around their midlife crisis-y point, and gone out with his band. Becky Bamboo went to see them. Hmmm - I wonder if bamboo stakes would kill a vampire?

So Veronica and I went to the city last night, hitting the Great American Music Hall in time to hear about 20 minutes of the second band, Calahan. My inital reaction was: Oasis. The singer had that same kind of nasal tone and trailing off at the end of notes as Liam Gallagher. The music was more power pop type stuff though, and actually wasn't that bad. The lyrics were good, if a little generic. They did a cover of "The Letter" with a guest vocalist who looked like a 21 Jump Street era Peter DeLuise in a really bad blue shirt with the sleeves cut off. Not doing yourselves any favors there, guys. All in all they were okay. I enjoyed their performance and they had a couple of songs that I wouldn't mind hearing again. Luckily they had free cd samplers and I grabbed one as we left. Listening to it in the car this morning on the way into work I realized that I just don't think the singer fits with the sound of the band. He wants to be the Rolling Stones while the rest of the band is too busy lamenting the breakup of Supergrass. If they had a lead singer who fit the power pop sound I could definitely see them making that scene.

While we were waiting for Ghost of the Robot (have I mentioned how lame that name is?) to come out I noticed that the usual San Francisco hipster audience had decided to give this show a pass. There was nary a white boy fro or a pair of black rimmed glasses in sight. No ironic t-shirts even! The venue was about 2/3 of the way full and I'd say a good 3/4 of the audience was female. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Buffy fans.

The members of Ghost of the Robot started setting up and my already low expectations sank even lower. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you my theory of bands and costumes. All members in costumes = good. e.g. Interpol, The Hives, and, on the extreme end, The Moldy Peaches. Only one member in costume = not so good. The lead guitarist for GotR came out dressed as Luke Wilson in The Royal Tennenbaums. Shorts, sweatband, etc. Not a good sign, people.

They started into the first song and James Marsters took the stage about a minute into it, accompanied by much screaming and glee from the audience. Okay, lets get the music out of the way first. Loud, generic alt.rock. It wasn't as bad as I feared; the band was pretty tight and enthusiastic but the lyrics were fairly generic when they weren't outright crap (despite mentioning the Smiths and dropping in a Radiohead reference). They had a few songs that had decent parts.. a chorus here, most of a song there.. but for the most part it was nothing I hadn't heard and dismissed hundreds of times before. As a performer James' voice is decent, but not artful. I don't know if some of those notes were supposed to sound that way or if he was just really out of tune, but during one song in particular the pitch was downright painful. As a frontman he seemed a little awkward, but looked like he was having a blast. At times it looked like he didn't really know what to do with his hands and other times the performance felt kind of posed. He seemed a little too reticent to really let go and get properly mussed.

James was looking fine though, I must say. He was in jeans and a black long sleeved t-shirt. His hair was very Spike-ish, bleached and combed back, but not as severe looking. He smiled a lot and laughed all the time. That took some getting used to. Every flash of tummy when he raised his arms or appearance of tongue (he stuck it out after every song) elicited screams so loud you'd swear American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken was melissma-ing his way to another glory note. At one point he flapped his shirt, commenting on how hot it was and the resulting shrieks made him turn around and get all embarrassed. I varied between rolling my eyes and feeling a little dirty.

As we were walking back to the car, someone commented behind us, "I wonder if he thinks they're actually good." I have to say I think he does. He has to know that most (if not all) of the audience is there for Spike, but maybe he thinks the music will win them over or something. From what I saw I wouldn't hold out hope for that any time soon. Veronica and I left feeling that it was all a little sad and I was almost ashamed of my reasons for going. Whatever. I'm still getting double prints on the pictures I took.

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