Stroke me

The Proles Riff Raff, Friday, Jan. 30

Sometimes you can snooze on Chico nightlife, wake up and there’s a whole new forest of fresh-scrubbed faces in place. Last Friday, I joined members of the new school with decidedly alt. tastes, judging by the tats and retro wear, who’ve made the Riff Raff their own. And why not? The night’s bill featured four rock bands and no cover.

With respect to the other bands I heard (Caveat and The Dylan Seed Band seemed tight and rockin’), I was here mainly to catch up-n-comers The Proles, Sacramento’s version of the Strokes—and due to space constraints must focus on them.

Drawing equally from Television and the Beatles, The Proles peddle an economical garage rock sound anchored by bouncy bass hooks, blue-collar snare work from Buddy Holly look-alike Dan Taylor, melodic keyboard coloring and raspy lead vocals (punchy delivery of playful pop choruses) from singer/guitarist Justyn Bartels, a confident front man who has the Lower-East-Side-via-Gap-catalogue look down.

“It seemed like something to do,” Bartels said about playing free in Chico. “Try to get the word out, sell some CDs [Index Print on Americans are Coming Recordings] before going on tour.”

Don’t be surprised if The Proles’ radio-friendly, runway rock turns out to be the next big thing out of Sacramento. The group has strong hometown support, label/managerial kinship with The Low Flying Owls, and future dates with Texas indie kings Spoon. You can catch them regularly in Sacto at clubs such as The Blue Lamp and Old Ironsides—and they say they’ll be back for more Chico action, too.