Any time I go to Club Vegas (which is very, very rarely) I know exactly what kind of bands will be playing. It's a metal bar through and through. The atmosphere, door guy, the bartender, the bar backs and the sound guy all set the tone and typically the first band takes the stage is loud, heavy, chaotic and scream-y. Just once I'd like to be surprised.
Just think, though - what if you were totally, completely wrong?
This comes to mind because Friday night at A Bar Named Sue, Cub Country and Bronco played. Both of those bands are perfect background music for that place. Just like Bird Eater and Jesus Rides a Riksha fit in perfectly at Club Vegas. And there are myriad reasons for doing it this way and I understand all of them because they all make perfect sense. But I'm just playing around with "what if" scenarios right now.
So, what if every year one representative from each participating bar met up and the name of every band in the CWMA was written on a little piece of paper and placed in a hat? Then the hat is passed around and, one by one, that's how the line-ups are decided. The catch is that the line-ups stay secret until the MC takes the stage.
It would never work and the results would be disastrous, but it would be so much damn fun for someone like me. I would love to be present as Eagle Twin caused a mass exodus of the Circle Lounge or watch Birthquake give it their best shot on the huge Club Vegas stage.
Anyway, wishful thinking on my part. Now where was I?
Oh, right the second night of the CWMA at Club Vegas.
This was a show that I'd actually been looking forward to. Bird Eater is one of the best local metal bands around right now, but the past couple of times I've seen them the energy just hasn't been there. On Saturday night, though, they were on top of their game. The southern rock intro was only a primer for the heavy, controlled chaos that followed. The band ripped through their set with an intensity that I hadn't seen from them in a while, but it was a welcome return. They were firing on all cylinders and even though the crowd was sparse, they played as if the venue were packed from wall to wall.
Bird Eater are the type of musicians who look uncomfortable on a big stage, five feet above everyone else and illuminated in fluorescent lights. They're in their element in small, intimate venues where you can feel every note and bass drum kick hitting you in the chest. And Jon, the vocalist, has such a commanding presence that it's sometimes lost when he's so far away. But they made the most of the situation and brought the intimate feel of one of their Kilby Court or house shows to Club Vegas with them.
They're still a young band (compared to the headliner, especially) but the future is already looking pretty good for Bird Eater.
Jesus Rides A Riksha have been around for a long, long time and I've heard the name for years, but never actually seen them play (or even heard them, for that matter). Can't say they were really my thing, but they do what they do really well. They're more of a hard rock/punk hybrid with a knack for vocal harmonies and a definitive chorus as opposed to Bird Eater's riff-heavy technical metal.
Their straightforward, punk stuff is what interested me the most, mainly because the drummer is fantastic. He plays with such energy that it seems like a shame to make him slow the songs down for the hook. Jesus Rides knew exactly how to work that big stage and are all extremely comfortable with each other. Add to the professionalism that each one of them brings and performing just seemed like second nature to them. It was just a shame that there weren't more people around to see them.
They mixed in a wide variety of music and some songs were miles ahead of others, both structurally and technically. But that kind of thing is bound to happen when you're working years of differing material into a set. With a solid core sound and a lot of experience under their belt, Jesus Rides a Riksha will hopefully keep filling Salt Lake's need for aggressive, heavy music for a long time.