The Posies, Aqueduct, Salim Nourallah Granada Theater November 24th, 2010
Better than: staying home with your Posies records and trying to figure all of the various guitar tunings.
Given that it was the night before Thanksgiving, Wednesday's show at the Granada could have been a ghost town.
By the time The Posies took stage at 10 o'clock, ballpark estimates were somewhere between 50 and 100 attendees, all of various ages. Not great numbers, but the band played they were in front of a packed room.
With a 90-minute set heavily featuring their latest record, Blood/Candy, the four-piece was still generous with nuggets from their back catalog.
Mainstays Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow showed no sign of wear-and-tear after starting the band in the late 80s. Their vocal harmonies were still spot-on sweet, no matter how light or distorted their guitars were.
And it helped that the pair were unafraid to show the kind of rock moves you'd more likely see at a KISS show. Guitars were often pointed to the ceiling, synchronized jumps frequently happened mid-song and Stringfellow played like he was ripping the notes out of his guitar. (Auer even ripped all of the strings off of his guitars by the end of the show.)
It helped Auer and Stringfellow knew how to converse with the crowd. Frequently joking between songs, the final song of the night even had the two riffing on various songs like Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" and Ric Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." Earlier, Stringfellow paused to draw attention to the smell of a lit joint. With a smile, he asked, "Do you smell what I smell?" Adding that it was a "Skynyrd moment," Auer had an even better line later on after he thanked everyone for coming out: "I have some crystal meth for sale."
Backed by drummer Darius Minwalla and bassist Matt Harris, songs from Frosting On the Beater, Dear 23 and Amazing Disgrace sounded as good as they did on the record. Minwalla played more like his predecessor, Brian Young, than original drummer Mike Musburger. Meaning, less Keith Moon-like fills and more steady groove and flow.
The crowd was appreciative of the new material, but they strongly responded to songs like "Golden Blunders," "Flavor of the Month" and "Definite Door." Songs from every Posies record except their debut, Failure, were touched on. Alas, there was no "Flood of Sunshine," "Dream All Day" or even a Big Star song, but the set was still spectacular.
Seattle's Aqueduct seemed like an odd fit for the show. The guitar-bass-drums trio was filled out by electronic programming, adding vocal harmonies as well as extra keyboards and guitars. The band had a foot-stompin', big rock vibe with (no insults implied) an emo-like twist of melodies. Their 40-minute, 11-song set received warm responses from the audience.
Local Salim Nourallah was backed by The Dufilhos, featuring John Dufilho on drums and Jason Garner on bass. Salim's family was in attendance, including his young daughter, which, according to Salim, was her first show. Overall, the band had a great sound mix and satisfying light show. That said, given the easy, granola style of rock, the set was neither boring nor exciting.
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Personal bias: Yup, I'm one of those Posies fans that has a lot of their material, even their (sadly) out-of-print box set, At Least, At Last. Hell, I even have a rare radio promo CD that has cover versions of tunes by The Zombies, The Germs, and The Hollies on it. Random quote: Fellow Observer writer Darryl Smyers called Aqueduct frontman David Terry a "reincarnated D. Boon" given his size. He also thought their music sounded like "short-bus rock."
By the way: This was my first time to see The Posies, but it was not the first time I'd seen Ken Stringfellow play live. If memory serves me correctly, I saw him play with Lagwagon back in 1997 at Fitzgerald's in Houston. Yes, Lagwagon, the super-fast pop-punk mainstay of Fat Wreck Chords.
Posies' set list: "So Caroline" "Plastic Paperbacks" "Flavor of the Month" "I Guess You're Right" "20 Questions" "Licenses to Hide" "Golden Blunders" "Solar Sister" "The Glitter Prize" "For the Ashes" "Enewetak" "Throwaway" "Please Return It" "Conversations" Encore "Start a Life" "Love Letter Boxes" "Definite Door" "You're the Beautiful One"