Thursday, March 5, 2009

Religious Girls, Maus Haus, French Miami Played The Rickshaw - Review, Pictures

Last night at the Rickshaw Stop we saw one of the best complete bills of local music that we think will come around for quite some time. Three bands were on the bill: Religious Girls, Maus Haus, and French Miami. What was truly unusual about the night was that three bands with seemingly similar instrumentation (synth and percussion heavy, as it were) could sound so remarkably different. What's more, all three were incredibly solid in delivery and performance. The house was full straight through the night, and any of the bands could have been a headliner in the their own right. Combined into one show, it was not to be missed.

Religious Girls started off the night in an unusual circular configuration in the middle of the Rickshaw's floor. Lit only by a string of Christmas lights and some red house lights, the band proceeded to play a set of abstract, percussive tunes. If we had to pick a musical watermark to compare it to, we'd immediately pick Liars' Drums Not Dead. Many of the same syncronized percussive techniques were used, and many of the droney, unison, distorted vocals were in effect as well. That being said, the band definitely defined their own sound enough to not come off as overly derivative. Their delivery was also fantastic, and by the end of the set they had easily roped in the crowd with their energy and beats.

Following the cleanup of the instruments on the floor, Maus Haus made their way to the stage and dove into a set of highly orchestrated synth-driven music. The band's method was precise and technical, and while it was certainly compelling and well delivered, we have to admit it left us feeling a bit cold. The set was so perfect that it seldom felt as though it had a "moment" or a "feel" that evoked any sort of passion.

That being said, the band did deliver a number of sonic goodies that we really enjoyed. They have a wildly diverse instrumental foundation, ranging from synths, to trumpet, to drum pads, to flute, to baritone sax, to bass and electric guitar. The instruments themselves are also put through the paces, in particular hearing the wind instruments through a variety of pedals and effects was pretty fantastic. The band were unquestionably a hit with the audience, and while we enjoyed their set, we would have also dug seeing them get a little bit more dangerous with the tunage.

French Miami closed out the night with a comparitively sparse stage arrangement for their rock and roll three piece. The band was unquestionably the most rock and roll of the three, and hit the ground running. With two synths, two guitars, and a drum kit, the band delivered material from their fantastic record, as well as a few new tunes to boot.

One of the great things about seeing a band live is getting to see just how they get the noises you hear on the record. In French Miami's case, this was particularly enlightening for us. Many of the riffs and blips we had assumed to be originating from keyboards were in fact the guitar work of Roland Curtis. Curtis used a fair amount of tapping, along with some not-visible effects to create some really fantastic sounds.

French Miami delivered a set that was unquestionably rocking, and technically was in top form. They got some of the audience going to the point of semi-moshing and crowd surfing (a stretch, we have to admit), and the show validated many of the album arrangements that we thought might have questionable viability in a live setting. That being said, some of the arrangements were a little too close to the record, and in hind sight we think the band could have benefitted from straying from the source material a bit more.

Nonetheless, it was a fantastic set that ended a fantastic night. We'd love to pick one of these bands to be the "band to watch" or some such thing, but the fact of the matter is that we're pretty sure they all deserve that moniker. This show was unquestionably a night of some of the best experimental rock emerging from San Francisco today.

More pictures at the HAD Archive.