Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Flamingo at World Cafe Live


Please excuse the lame photo; as I wrote yesterday, my son has failed to furnish me with actual pics of his band, Flamingo, and now I'm contributorily negligent because I left my camera home last night.

Anyway...

The show at World Cafe Live was pretty damn impressive last night. I didn't realize it, but it was billed as Paul Green School of Rock Music Presents: Infinien, 722, and Flamingo. All three bands contain Rock School students/alumnae and/or teachers. I knew this would be happening -- it was just a matter of time. And needless to say, the place was PACKED! I'm serious, they played upstairs at World Cafe, which is usually not the place for headliners (they play downstairs d'oh) but let me tell you, the bar, and every single table was taken. These bands could easily have sold out the "big room". Opening was Infinien, who is described as follows:

Infinien combines eclectic and seemingly disparate musical personalities into a visionary, unified sound that defies genre. The music of Infinien has evolved from simple musical collaborations between roommates into something much greater than the sum of its parts. On vocals and keyboards is Chrissie Loftus, who formally co- fronted Trace Fury, a local experimental neo-classical jazz pop group. Matthew Hollenberg is a progressive guitarist who currently plays in experimental metal band Cleric and death metal-punk band Cetus. Justin Carney is a professional jazz musician and plays acoustic upright and electric basses. On drums is Tom Cullen, who has played in death metal-Latin group Heinous Anus and jazz punk band Jazz Crimes.
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It was interesting for me to see Matt Hollenberg play guitar in this band. I met Matt when he was 16 or 17 and one of Paul's first premier students. I guess he's around 22 now. When I knew him, he would come to our house and have my daughter record his band and he was into really heavy metal. In fact, he toured with either Ozzie or the Warped Tour...I can't remember...in any event, last night was a whole new showcase for his amazing talent because he was playing jazz/rock and it was AWESOME.

Funny story about Matt and his metal days. Julie used to record his head banger band at our house. I have a small place and Matt and his band came in with Marshall stack amps. His lead singer was...err...interesting (okay, think lots of off key screaming). So having experienced this a couple of times, I decided to go to the beach for a few hours while they were recording. Imagine my consternation (ha) when I returned home and saw three police cars parked outside my house.

"Oh god," I thought. "I can see this already. They are under 21; they're drinking and doing drugs, a neighbor called the police, and I'm going to be the one who lands in jail."

Ha ha. Not true. I was thinking of my own youth. Yeah, a neighbor did call the police, but when the police came, they made fun of the neighbors and really got into the music. My kids invited them in for cookies! One of the cops was dancing! I walked in, expecting the worst, and the police gave me a high five!
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Next band up was 722, made up of all University of Arts grads, one of whom is Nero, a guitar teacher at Rock School. They are an extremely interesting band...they remind me of an old Philly group, Johnny's Dance Band, with a female singer who did harmonies with the guys and did very energetic, power pop rock. Actually, it was more like Johnny's Dance Band meets the B-52s last night because 722 is also punk, but then they surprised me by doing a quiet song which was almost jazzy, too. So they were a hell of a lot of fun to watch. They were the headliners, but get this -- they didn't want to go on last because last time they headlined and Flamingo opened for them, Flamingo filled the house and when 722 came on, everyone left. (Not on purpose or not because the music was bad; that's just the way it is. People go to see their friends, then split to party). Anyway, check this band out if you can; they are very, very cool and you can find their website here
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Finally, Flamingo took the stage. They get more sophisticated and more confident with every show. Last night they were truly incredible. Once again, I was amazed at the crowd -- everyone stayed -- the audience included Rock School teachers, former students, current students, and local musicians who'd heard the buzz on the street.
They did a lot of new material last night and there were a couple major highlights: They coaxed former Rock School All-Star Allie Hauptman out of retirement to play a few tunes on the keyboards and for their finale, invited Brian Purcell, a Rock School All-Star who plays bass but studied violin for years, to play said violin. Dan Nitz, Flamingo's bass player, played a bit of his original instrument, the trumpet, and even crazier, they did one cover -- a Flaming Lips tune, which Julia sang with Eric, who came out from behind his drum set to play acoustic guitar.

Haffie and Matt were their usual awesome selves on guitar, but when Julia picked up her guitar and did a solo, you could hear the crowd do a collective gasp; it was that good.

I had the chills.

So, in spite of MTV, rap, and idiot big business corporations, original and creative music lives and thrives in Philadelphia!

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