March 31, 2007

That Was The Show That Was: E.R., The Mitchells | PA's Lounge

E.R. And Caleb Wetmore of The MitchellsIt's a rare event these days that we actually go to a show where there are two bands on the bill we're interested in. But last night we had the pleasure of a twofer at PA's Lounge in Somerville, Mass., where The Mitchells and E.R. were rocking in the one and three slots respectively on a four-band bill toplined by Tom Thumb, which was playing its final show. The Mitchells, newly stripped down to a three-piece from a quartet, had started their second tune as we made the scene, and the affable trio from Western Mass. delivered a tidy set comprised mostly of cuts from its latest long player Slow Gears, which we reviewed here earlier this month.

We were struck by the steady stream of what for us would have been intensely hand-cramping chords that guitarist and singer (and, incidentally, New Radiant Storm King bassist) Caleb Wetmore uses to construct smart rock songs. The Mitchells offered up a few new tunes, too, and joked about some less-than-slick sections. But all of what we presumed to be the new material (we're not familiar with the band's back catalog at all) sounded like winners. The highlights of the set were the memorable tracks from Slow Gears, including "Still Might Happen" and "R.I.," which we think was the set closer. The band was particularly compelling when compositions made room for drummer Mike McLean to build up a head of steam and really punch songs home. We spoke with Mr. Wetmore briefly after the performance and he says the band aims to put together a longer string of dates to support Slow Gears, which certainly deserves more attention. You can still stream all of the record at the link below.

After a pit stop in the bar during the second act we returned to the side of the stage for a no-nonsense set from hometowner E.R., who charged through cracking versions of many of the songs from his recently released set of anthems to dissatisfaction, This Conspiracy Against Us. Guitarist and singer Eldridge Rodriguez led backing trio The New Jerseys through spirited versions of "You Get What You Want" (complete with its ear-dictive chearleader chant for action) and "Stillborn In New Jersey" to kick off the set, and a highlight was a rocked-up version of "You And Me." The staged versions of the tunes from This Conspiracy are stripped of adornments present on the album like slide guitar, organ and piano, and what is left is, as our old pal Barry quipped last night in a different context, "all killer and no filler." Even so, second guitarist Greg Lyon daisy-chained the set together with a loaded effects pedal that droned tremolo guitar notes, and Mr. Rodriguez strapped on a harmonica at one point. Word on the street is a second E.R. record is already in the can, so don't expect much in the way of a pause in the stream of Beatings-related releases. We reviewed This Conspiracy Against Us here. We've got MP3s and buy links for both The Mitchells and E.R. below -- doowutchyalike. Finally, here is a Flickr set of our pics from the shows.

E.R. -- "Stillborn In New Jersey" -- This Conspiracy Against Us [video]
E.R. -- "You Get What You Want" -- This Conspiracy Against Us
[right click and save as]

[buy This Conspiracy Against Us from Midriff here]

E.R.: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

The Mitchells -- "Still Might Happen" -- Slow Gears
The Mitchells -- "R.I." -- Slow Gears
[right click and save as; more Mitchells MP3s can be found here]

[Stream all of Slow Gears right here. Buy from CDBaby here]

The Mitchells: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

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