The Rebel Set, The Oakland Raiders, Freaks of Nature Rogue Bar 1/24/2014
There were a few lessons to be gleaned from The Rebel Set's record release show at the Rogue Bar on Friday night. The sound guy, for example, learned in the middle of the second set, that one might want to turn the vocals up louder than the instruments for the singer to be heard, while I discovered that that Daniel Shircliff (a.k.a. Buford Wigglebottom) of The Freaks of Nature probably should have made my list of the top nine front people
And I think that The Rebel Set learned not to book three bands that might be more interesting than them to open one of their big shows.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Phoenix-based four-piece band, which recently released the 12-song record How to Make a Monster and its hard and fast surf rock. All of its members clearly have talent and can play their instruments. They just didn't bring anything particularly fresh to the stage. Surf rock has been popping up more as a popular style of music within the local scene, and perhaps the over-saturation is starting to show.
Fellow surf rockers The Oakland Raiders opened the night, prefaced by local comedian Eli Kluger taking to the stage and warming the crowd up with some jokes. His dry form of humor, very much in the "I'm-so-not-funny-I-must-be-funny" vein, was well received. He opened thing up by saying, "President Obama is really doing a great job...at masterminding 9/11" and kept the laughs rolling from there.
The Raiders took the stage after about five minutes of jokes from Kluger, and, as a six-piece, were all right. The band has had an ever-shifting lineup for the entirety of their six-month lifespan.
Current bass player Andrew Jemsek has also played drums and keyboard, while rhythm guitarist Nick Villa was performing his first show with the band in a few months. I didn't catch their names, but Friday's gig was the first Oakland Raiders' show that I've scene with its current drummer, third guitarist, and keyboard player.
The crowd had barely shown up -- there were perhaps 25 people inside the Rogue Bar -- but seemed to be content. Frontman James Hanna did his thing, playing without a pick, singing in a falsetto, and doing his awkward shimmy. It was a real shame, however, that he couldn't be heard over the instruments.
After a performance by Scorpion vs. Tarantula, the Freaks of Nature got going, and those guys were on during their set. Perhaps they were trying to make up for a less-than-stellar performance at the Lost Leaf last weekend. Before the show, Andrew Jemsek (who was pulling double duty as drummer for Freaks of Nature) said, "In every band there has to be one complete drunk. In the Oakland Raiders it's James, and in the Freaks it's me."
Regardless of how much he had imbibed, however, Jemsek sounded great banging on the drums and singing backup. The Freaks really seemed to be in great spirits rocking ear-to-ear smiles throughout the set, and even had many audience members singing along.
Their tunes are upbeat, energetic, and the words are easy to remember. There really isn't anything not to like about the Freaks, and the crowd seemed to agree, considering they called for an encore following the set. And they got it.
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The Rebel Set performed last, but just did not pop. The audience seemed to diminish following the Freaks, and many of those who remained seemed to be either drinking, sitting or meandering. A few loyal Rebel Set fans took positions in front of the Rogue Bar's stage and danced along while the surf rockers performed, but for the most part, the party died after the Freaks of Nature finished.