Dirty Few at 3 Kings Tavern, 1/17/13
Tom Murphy Warhawk at 3 Kings Tavern
"This travesty is Warhawk," said singer and guitarist Alex Eschen before his band's set began. The band hadn't played in around five months, but it didn't really show except for the kinds of timing errors in the beginnings of songs that most bands do often. Eschen's voice had that kind of soulful warble that you hear when Ian Astbury sings in the Cult, especially on Electric. Musically, it was a compelling blend of power pop, punked-up country rock and boogie.
In the middle of the set, Eschen told us they would play Neil Young and then fade into Pentagram. There was a tuning issue, though, so the Neil Young song ended earlier than usual. During the tuning interlude, Eschen told us an eloquent and amusing story about how he got his spider tattoo and how it wove into differing views about the nature of rock and roll. True to Eschen's word, Warhawk did play Pentagram in the form of a commanding take on "Starlady." The band ended its set with an original called "Sea Witch."
Tom Murphy The Photo Atlas at 3 Kings Tavern
It had probably been a good long while since many people at the show had seen the Photo Atlas. Fortunately the band put in the kind of show that not only reminded them why the outfit garnered so much attention before, but demonstrated the ways in which it has honed its craft and learned to reinvent itself in a way that didn't dispense with what made the band noteworthy from the beginning.
One immediately noticeable change was the fact that Josh Taylor and Mark Hawkins create the kind of expressive rhythms between them that not only give the music its great momentum, but it allows for guitarists Bill Threlkeld III and newcomer Luis (this being his second show with the band) to pursue a shifting dynamic between angular and jittery and a cycling flow of interweaving guitar lines.
Now that singer Alan Andrews is unmoored from guitar duties, he was able to be the emotional lightning rod he's always been but even more so. The guy was never less than compelling, but with this show, his command of the audience was even greater.
Seeing these guys this time made it easy to appreciate what each member brings individually to the band and how it works together to make the kind of dance-y post-punk and post-hardcore that spawned it seem relevant all over again. The wiry energy and the forceful flurry of the band's rhythms were irresistible.
Personal Bias: A few bands have won me over after initially not knowing what to think. Dirty Few is one of them. Rock and roll is alive and well when a band that fired up exists.
Random Detail: Get Loose Have Fun was available on cassette at the show. Highly recommended.
By the Way: The Photo Atlas have a new album, Stuck in a Honey Trap, that's slated to be released at a show at the hi-dive on February 8, and they played plenty of that material during the set tonight.