Saturday night was the CD release show for The Running's new live record at Exit In. Although I didn't really pay close enough attention to them to write anything, I did watch J-Po's new band, Jack Nasti, open the night.
Instead of the boisterous showman we got from the V.A.B, we were given an intense, beat driving keyboard/mouse player. John Paul has rounded up a new rhythm section and reunited with some of the old V.A.B, including Randy Boen on guitar, Jody Douglas on Sax and the old percussion player and created a trance-techno style group. The formula is pretty much like this: Start with looping two synth chords and a generic bass line, add a techno drum beat, repeat for a few minutes while Boen and the horns noodle around until the energy level rises and rises with Randy hitting the highest note his Stratocaster will play. Then mellow out for another couple of minutes until the end of the song. This formula seemed to work really well for about 20 of the 200 people at this show. The dancers really were feeling it, but the rest of the crowd really had to yell to tell each other about their cheesy pick up lines, office jobs and hair care product recommendations. Another thing missing was any kind of light show. If these guys could get a headlining gig somewhere with a fog machine and some good moving lights, this recipe might work out really well. It's not really the kind of thing for opening the night in still yellow light before anyone's got a buzz on, but if they could get that many people to come out to see them play their own show, it could be a good party. I have to commend John Paul for laying off the obnoxious shtick and focus more on making digestible music, even if it was frequenty on a computer. I had a hard time having to watch the poor drummer sit and wait while the computer thumped out beats from time to time. I was glad to see him occupy his time with tom-tom fills, even if they were pretty much futile.
On a side note, I'm not sure if the percussionist thought he was funny, or if he was pissed off, or trying to be sarcastic, but some of his comments made for some really awkward moments. After one song he said "that's the end of that song", as if to say "they all sound the same don't they." Other times he would suggest, in mid-song, that we "all take Ecstasy" or "throw some glow sticks", as if to mock the crowd and the music. I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth but it came off like he wasn't too into this style of music. I don't blame him, it's not really the place for congas, but leave the snide comments to the critics and either play like you like it or start a V.A.B. tribute band.