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Neon Reverb: Molly’s Friday journal

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The Wallburds play Beauty Bar.
Photo: Bill Hughes
Molly O'Donnell

We got to the Beauty Bar just after 11, where the packed house was already spilling out onto Fremont. After finagling our way in, we were faced with the dilemma of whether to watch the last few moments of The Clydesdale or the beginning of The Wallburds inside. We opted for both. Just as Paige Overton, of The Clydesdale, said goodnight we squeezed in next to the stage inside.

The Wallburds are a young band from LA, whose dearth of good equipment and hipster hair shows their age. They did, however, rock the hell out of the previously disinterested crowd. A blend Jet and Thin Lizzy, The Wallburds’ sound also featured a hint of Dead Meadow. You know the kind of band whose overwrought rock attitude and sound make it impossible to stand in a cool pose against a wall? That was The Wallburds. Their set served as a nice juxtaposition to The Clydesdale’s last song, which was pretty folksy.

After that, things got a little tedious due to some serious technical difficulties. It’s rare to be at a show where an entire band is sitting onstage smoking, instruments in hand, waiting for the techies to sort things out. Honestly though, this isn’t the first time this has happened at that venue. Makes me wonder if the Beauty Bar has a regular crew, or if it changes every night.

They had also taken down the strung Christmas-style lights that gave the back alley a sort of romantic whimsy. So basically it was a lot of pissed-off people standing around in the dark waiting for something to happen. After A Crowd of Small Adventures began to play, someone got the brilliant idea to shine a spotlight right into frontman Jackson Wilcox’s eyes. He and several other band members explained that this was an epic failure. The light went off; the music played on.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen A Crowd of Small Adventures play a bad set. Last night was no exception. Their high-energy music blends new wave with new folk, a perfect concoction of grass roots and high art. Every time I see them, I wonder why their album isn’t being reviewed on Sound Opinions or whatever hipster blog people are reading now. Anyhow, they played some of my favorites, including “Ancient Giants.”

It was after 2 a.m., and A Crowd of Small Adventures was only on its second or third song, so the ensuing Halloween Town set was for diehards only. Highlights of that performance were Red Eye Radio and Tommy Marth’s contributions to Ryan Pardey’s adept singing/playing. They played mostly songs from the Halloween Town album, but added bonuses like a cover of the Violent Femmes “Add It Up.”

Although it was an awesome night for Neon Reverb, it was an absurdly late night that’ll make today’s 6 p.m. door and 8 p.m. start time for Atari Teenage Riot seem amazing … provided it doesn’t rain.

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