In search of rock spectacle

This past week featured more driving around listening to music by Samuel Barber. At the Tattooed Love Dogs show at Marilyn’s, I’d run into a friend who knows an awful lot about classical music. When I recounted my latest obsession, he kindly scribbled out eight or nine essential Barber titles on a cocktail napkin, which later got shredded by my roommate’s dog. The point here is that times like these really make me miss Tower Records, which carried a selection that ran a lot deeper than the usual warhorses and generally stayed open later than a kindergartener’s bedtime. I do hope R5, or whatever Russ Solomon is calling his new venture at 16th Street and Broadway, carries a deeper selection than the average Borders.

But classical music was the last thing on my mind on Friday night when I hit the Distillery for a show that came highly touted in the local blog Heckasac. I’d figured that any show featuring the Four Eyes and the Pizzas would be packed, given all the fat-tire-bike-riding people with horn-rimmed glasses around Midtown, and with the added allure of some band called Robocop 3 from San Francisco. Guess I was wrong, though, or maybe it was that birthday party Beckler mentioned in her blog that caused the Distillery audience to consist of band members, a few friends and one random blog reader who managed to wander in.

The Pizzas, which opened the show, were great. Matt K. Shrugg, most certainly better known as the time-keeping genius behind Th’ Losin Streaks and the Ancient Sons, plays guitar and sings, with Charles Albright, drummer for Rock the Light et al., on bass and a woman (Matt told me who she was on Sunday when I ran into him at Crepeville, but OK, yeah, I forgot) on drums. I’ve always dug bands that can deliver the offhand nonchalance of band practice onstage at a gig, provided they don’t step out for a bite to eat after two songs, and the Pizzas came through in that department with flying colors. They recreated that rockin’-band-in-the-rumpus-room vibe, which pretty much got trashed when rock music went all careerist.

Next up was Robocop 3, which had an animated singer who, at the beginning of one tune, sprinted to the back bathroom to lose a few beers, then sprinted back and jumped in at the end of a prolonged guitar intro. There was one engaging song that namechecked Mordor and Rivendell, too.

The Four Eyes claim to be Sacramento’s nerdiest band. (You can read their long and storied history at The trio’s headlining stint at the Distillery evinced moments of sheer guitar-pop brilliance, mixed with enough band-practice tomfoolery to keep things off-balance and fun. You know a band is good when, midway through one of its songs, you realize you’re hearing a cover of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream.”