Though I was late to Double Wide on Thursday night, I caught enough of Dallas band Heaven Is a Hotel to appreciate its discordant, Fugazi-appreciative rock. Bassist Gavan Nelson carried the trio's musical load by playing more notes than the bassists from Ned's Atomic Dustbin combined, but he displayed enough restraint to avoid cheeseball Les Claypool-style bass lines. On the other hand, James Swenson hardly pulled his weight at the concert, as his ho-hum guitarwork and flighty vocals were overshadowed by Nelson's play and screams. Goodbye Blue Monday followed with a decent show that emulated the dynamic guitarplay of Broken Social Scene, but the band's lack of spark had me wondering why it had come all the way from San Diego.
Frankly, though, I was at Double Wide to see the spark of RecordHop. When I first caught the Dentonites in concert last year, I immediately fell for their dark, Sonic Youth-tinged dedication to early-'90s grunge, and after downloading their demos a week later, I fell doubly in love with their knack for catchy songs. And while their hometown concerts are usually stellar, the band has been cursed with crappy turnouts at Dallas shows. Thursday's thin crowd was no exception, and RH couldn't overcome the emptiness, as their herky-jerky songs suffered from drumming flubs and static, standstill performances. Fortunately, Ashley Cromeens' husky singing was in fine form, proving again that her vocal chords are unlike any others in rock today. Comparing her voice to Kim Gordon's does disservice to her ability to actually sing, yet going so far as Cat Power's Chan Marshall denies the voice its urgency. Cromeens' moans and wails complemented the band's assault, and Scott Porter's lead guitar parts sounded more ambitious than I'd heard before, but the otherwise imperfect show just made me hungry for their forthcoming album, Pareidolia.