Frankie Rose and Chandails Rhythm Room Monday, April 16
To all aspiring indie rock mavens: no matter how many blog accolades you acquire (even, yes, the three-pronged hydra of "Best New Music") or how many spine-crushingly cool side-projects bolster your C.V., at some point you will play Phoenix, Arizona on a Monday night to an underwhelming crowd and it will be up to you to determine the timbre of the evening.
Oh, and that goes double for the early opener, sans taste-maker credence.
Tempe/Phoenix sprites Chandails, purveyors of Mersey beat sway and Strokes-ish angularity, hit the stage at 8:30 p.m. to a cavernous Rhythm Room. Word came forth that Dive, the Slumberland-signed tour-mates of Frankie Rose, blew their van transmission in Austin and weren't gonna make it. Their kick drum kept bucking the brick that failed to hold it in place; guitarist Paul Arambula adjusted his mic only to have the stand separate into two pieces.
But the guys had no problem rolling with the circumstances. Arambula assembled his stand just in time to tweak out an opening guitar lead. The guys took turns shoving back the stubborn kick. They swung their chords hard during the bent surf-rock numbers (which are apparently primed for a forthcoming cassette release). They kept their stares firm during the slow-blooming tunes that demanded rolling down-turned bass lines and buttoned-up Velvet Underground severity. All the while they emanated just the right "fuck-it" vibe, the kind that allows for loyalty to the songs while resigning to whatever karmic shrapnel is to come.
On that same note: Frankie Rose and her band, going on a hair before 9:30 p.m., were unafraid to acknowledge the empty space, happily bullshitting between songs with the crowd about Tupac holograms and Sonoran hot dogs.
"It's so early," Rose joked, "you should all be wasted and there should be 40 or 50 more of you."
Rose has surely been in this situation before. It might have been her charming ambivalence, the flawless vocal melodies she and her bassist threw down or the set list at her feet written on the back of a Styrofoam plate; she holds no entitlement toward attendance.
Listening to Interstellar, her newest release, I expected synth-driven pop with lots of negative space, but the band stuck firm to their guitars and played more distorted numbers from her Frankie Rose and the Outs iteration. The drummer played with what looked like xylophone mallets, conjuring orchestral resonance from the toms and cymbals. Plucky guitar interplay was washed around with heavy reverb harmonies.
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And then it was over, well before 10:30. Quite a few more people showed up, though, and they looked pleased. Rose did too, saying they were taking off to Yuma later. Another orbit at the turn-style of youth. I don't want to imagine what they do in Yuma on a Monday night.
Last Night: Frankie Rose and Chandails at Rhythm Room.
Overheard: "Are they old enough to drink?" - Drunk guy watching Chandails