The manfriend is more of an indie rock dude, so occasionally I find myself at these types of shows. And on this particular night, we show-hopped and caught the opener at Slim’s and the main act at The Independent.
Wintersleep, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, has had a rollercoaster of a year. After winning the Juno award (Canadian Music Award) for Best New Band 2008 and gracing the cover of CMJ, they had all of their equipment stolen in Louisiana. It was their first time in SF, and they mentioned that they were welcomed by “having a beer bottle thrown through their hotel window”. While their sound can sometimes fall into indie rock purgatory- they have several tracks that push the boundaries into hard and psychedelic rock. The vocalist has an exceptional voice that is best described as Dave Matthews meets My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. While their appearance lacks a distinct style, they make up for it with an energetic for indie rock performance. I most appreciated when the guitarist, who looked strikingly like Girl Talk’s Greg Gilles as of late, transitioned to the keyboard for the last song, stood on the seat to play and compulsively bit the side of the microphone.
Off we were to The Independent, which felt empty compared to the warm reception Wintersleep had at Slim’s for being the first opener. We walked in to see the Magic Bullets finishing up their set, the singer bopping around the stage singing Morissey inspired vocals. A brief break and then one of the most unexpected things occurred. The female singer from The Rosebuds got on stage and told some sappy story about how last year their van broke down on her birthday, and they met this guy who was the cousin of the mechanic or something, and he baked her a birthday cake and made the day better. So, she has a special treat for us tonight- a performance from Fire and Whiskey. Out comes a guy wearing an obviously fake beard, and he sits down and starts strumming and singing something ridiculous about whiskey and sunsets. He stops, and tells the crowd that they are too loud. Several false starts later, a guy in front of the crowd starts singing along, and more back and forth ensues. Then the guy in the audience breaks out a melodica, and tries to play along. Right about now I’m like WTF is going on. The guy with the melodica gets on stage, and hilarity ensues as he tries to convince Fire and Whiskey to let him into his band, which involved MySpace jokes, Dexter references, and my favorite, the $5 Foot Long Subway jingle.
Shortly after this piece of performance art, The Rosebuds came onstage. I knew I would probably not like it as soon as the girl come out and high fived everyone in the front row. To me, they sounded amateurish- but are probably a lot of fun for their hometown Raleigh college locals. They were more about trying to create a party atmosphere than the music. I stayed up front searching for something to like when they started to teach the very willing crowd what was ultimately a line dance to one of their songs. Now I draw the line at line dances, so I left for the back of the room to see if the change in perspective helped. Nope. The manfriend and I definitely have very different tastes in music.