the Electrosonics' Claire Kenney

Slowdive on a Slow Night

with Space Kid and the Electrosonics
The Starfish Room
Vancouver, B.C.
Thursday, July 10, 1997

Review by Darren Gawle
Photography by Rodney Gitzel

Aside from Rodney and myself, there are two distinct categories of people in the audience tonight:

two Electrosonics No, of course it's not that empty in here, but it would take about twenty more bodies to even come close to rivaling the crowd from the Bardo Pond show here last year. Now I understand why clubs are going tits up faster than Albanian trust funds these days.

Look at the Electrosonics. With an independently-released CD out and a tour under their belt, but without airplay on a station that the general public isn't afraid to listen to (face it, listening to CiTR is just too "icky" for your average Z95 fan to contemplate), the best they can do is scrape together less than ten friends here to see them. Well, it's the public's loss, really. Mildly sloppy though the performance is, there's enough eau-de-Slowdive hanging in the air around them to make you realize how much you miss shoegazing. Though the pedal steel guitar is sadly absent from their setup, Claire Kenney's Perfume Tree-style vocals and an occasional keyboard fill that quotes Zbigniew Preisner's soundtrack work (The Double Life of Veronique, etc.) more than make up for it. The Electrosonics are just keeping the dreampop torch burning, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Space Kid What there is something wrong with is up next. Space Kid might be a better band if they weren't trying so hard not to offend anyone; they treat us to a helping of saccharine-sweet pop complete with lyrics like "Monkey see, monkey do / Monkey me and monkey you" and I end up feeling like I've just eaten a bag of marshmallows. Lurking under the surface of each song is evidence of some natural songwriting talent, but they need to stop acting cute. Space Kid come across like an even more harmless Zuckerbaby, but with Barry Manilow covers, and that's quite enough of that.

Given the attendance at the last house party Speedbuggy played, tonight's general no-show is a particular surprise. (Mind you, who pays cover at a house party?) Well, fine, then, I guess we won't be treated to another fine rendition of "I like poop, my lord / Poop likes me!" by Joe "I'm a dead ringer for Billie Joe Green Day" Cassidy.

Speedbuggy's Joe Cassidy Speedbuggy are the kind of band which (unfortunately) attracts a certain type of audience, the kind of audience which isn't hung up on stripped-down songs with sparse arrangements. I say 'unfortunately' because it's the useless posing pseudo-intellectuals who stand around stroking their chins saying "Hmm...their songs all sound the same" who have all the money to go out and see bands. So Speedbuggy's songs all sound the same (even I'll admit that) -- but they're good songs. So Speedbuggy sounds like a generic indie-rock mix of Eric's Trip and early Lemonheads -- better that than a generic mix of Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam and more Pearl Jam. In other words, Speedbuggy will appeal to people who haven't misplaced their attention spans somewhere between The Wedge and Starbuck's.

Speedbuggy's mystery bassist Just in case, though, Speedbuggy features Vancouver's own Abbott & Costello in guitarists Simon Hussey and Joe "I Like Poop" Cassidy. With no audience as such to feed off musically, the harmonies between Simon and the mysterious female bass player (who is definitely not Olga) are so off that they might as well be singing on different planets; but at least Joe salvages some dignity by baiting the five people in front of the stage in a manner which would best be understood if you'd been there (so be there, next time). Example: "This is the last song of our shitty set, then you can drink for an hour... Jeez, why does everybody hate me?"

The reality of the situation here in Vancouver, though, is that the Starfish Room broke even at best tonight. And they're just rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of more local indie talent gracing their stage, I shouldn't think.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on August 1, 1997

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