Sometimes what appears to be a fire-and-ice combination or an oil-and-water mix will be strangely successful - exhilarating even. Monday night's modern music concert was no exception to the rule.
On paper, the Cavedogs - a Boston-based trio -would seem to have nothing in common with current Manchester, England, faves (and headline act) the Charlatans U.K. In fact, though both bands are quite adept at what they do, it would sound like a match made in purgatory.However, the acts both take great inspiration from the bands of the '60s - like the Beatles - for example. While the Charlatans U.K. were probably listening to either "The Magical Mystery Tour" or "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," the Cavedogs were probably thrilling to "Revolver" or even "Meet the Beatles."
Even the bands' shows differ, with the Cavedogs opting for a straight-ahead, no-frills rock show and the Charlatans using a big-budget stage show that employs projectors and colored water.
Which band is more successful? Judging from either band's equally thrilling vinyl debuts, I myself am a tad more partial to the American guitar rock. In concert, though, the Charlatans make their organ-laden pop very hard to resist. Give some credit to the stage crew that aids in the spectacular visuals, but make no mistake, when these guys say their ultimate statement is onstage, they mean it!
Sounding like the sadly defunct Echo & The Bunnymen with Traffic's Steve Winwood influencing them rather than the Doors' Ray Manzarek, the band's music revolves completely around Rob Collins' spectacular organ playing. Vocalist Tim Burgess also furthers the Echo comparisons, especially with his brooding demeanor and physical resemblance to former Echo frontman Ian McCulloch.
However, their lyrical concerns haven't quite hit Bunnymen pretensions and revolve around personal matters rather than worldwide matters, sort of like the defunct (and not missed by me) Smiths without the whining. That's a compliment, by the way.
Though most of their numbers start with the same organ fills and overwhelming drum punch, there was no mistaking the opening number - the band's smash single "The Only One I Know." Collins' psychedelic organ swirl created an irresistible dance atmosphere that left no one sitting until they were too tired to stand anymore.
Strangely enough, though most bands sound awful in the Horticultural Building, the Charlatans sounded right at home - as their psychedelic disco pop actually thrived under the swampy atmospheric and sonic conditions.
By the way, when I say disco, I do mean disco. Their "Opportunity," which also deserves to be a smash single, revolves around a waka-waka guitar riff from John Baker that might not sound out of place in a Rick James song.
The concert's opening act didn't make much of a ripple in their first Utah appearance, opening for the Dead Milkmen and Mojo Nixon in December's "Amuck in America" show. However, this time the Cavedogs loosened up and actually showed off some of the potential greatness from their "Joyrides for Shut-Ins" album.
For example, covering Tom Jones' "What's New, Pussycat?" might not be every band's cup of tea, but these guys actually made it a perverse pleasure. Their original material, though, is even better, especially the college radio single "Leave Me Alone" and the nose-thumbing "La La La."
Also, any band in which all the members can sing lead vocals gets at least some credit for being easily more talented than your average top-40 band, or even on the local alternative rock station, for that matter.