Lend me your ears
A diverse night of indie rock at Moxie’s ranges from Lennonesque to ridiculous
Despite the stereotypical reluctance of a major portion of the general public to contribute any coinage to the upkeep of the scene, live music never goes away. Like a particularly tenacious weed, it just finds new places to manifest itself. And in Chico, since the Blue Room gave up on hosting rock shows featuring original music, the mantle of musical integrity and financial moxie has been taken up by the aptly named Moxie’s Café in the heart of downtown Chico.
And, as an added bonus, the shows there generally happen during hours that even a working person can enjoy. “Huzzah!” I say.
Anyway, on Thursday Sacramento trio Deimos kicked off the show by 8 o’clock or so and treated us to a generous set of highly crafted sonic pop songs. Fortifying the standard guitar-bass-drums format with prerecorded synthesizer and guitar parts and a few incomprehensible samples of movie or TV dialogue, the band utilized a broad palate of electronic textures to generate a spacey yet personable vibe that combined Lennonesque indie-pop with the sci-fi throb of mid-period Hawkwind. I liked them more and more as the set went on and will definitely keep at least one eye open for a return appearance.
I’d love to be able to say the same about San Diego’s The Peppermints, the ostensible headliners of the evening’s event who ended up—due to the lackadaisical tardiness of one of our local legends—taking the second of three spots on the night’s bill.
If they sounded as cool and off-kilter as they looked, The Peppermints would have brought down the house. I mean, with a 6-foot-tall platinum-blonde chick in a ‘60s girl’s basketball get-up and a serious-looking, T-shirted dark-haired girl in baseball pants and a shaggy, ultra-casual, glasses-wearing bohemian indie-dude sharing the stage, you just expect some sort of smart, poppy, hook-infested music to come out of the speakers and dance you around.
But, bless their hearts, the Peppermints are far beyond the need to fulfill such puerile and stereotypical expectations. What we got was a short set of songs that reminded me more than anything of being back in high school and taking over the instruments at a party to crank up the amps and flail and scream until the host pulled the plug and told us to get the fuck out. More fun to do than listen to sums it up.
Last up, Chico five-piece guitar-rock superband North Magnetic wasted no time in building a wall of amplified sound that spanned the spectrum from eardrum-piercing treble feedback to sphincter-tickling bass rumble. These guys demonstrate a total lack of fear of volume and total respect for the freedom of choice that allows audience members to flee the barrage or suffer the consequences.
A couple of the songs actually had dynamic shifts that allowed the discerning (and watchful) listener to momentarily tell which guitarist was playing which part, but the majority of the compositions are made listenable or discernible due only to the incredibly precise, complex, and powerful drumming of Casey Dietz, whose brilliant playing elevates the noise to a King Crimson-like level of sonic exploration.
Now if one of those three guitar players would just listen to some Fripp…