Monday, September 10, 2012

What a Noise:

Ladylike takes their mishmash of indie, power pop and seventies rock all the way to the Crescent Ballroom. There was dancing, glitter, and a very, very special cover.
What a Noise
Ladylike at the Crescent Ballroom / Show Review
September 10
By Chris Homa
What a Noise
Ladylike at the Crescent Ballroom / Show Review
Performed Sep. 7
Words By Chris Homa
The lead singer sweats as he asks the crowd if they want an encore. Do they want the band to pretend to leave and then triumphantly return, as bands usually do, or do they just want to cut the shit and have another song? The audience cheers, the lights flick off, and up comes a spot on the singer at his piano. He plays alone at first but is soon joined by the rest of the band. “You only die twice,” he sings, “so if I do it again, I’m gonna do it right.” Resounding la’s fill the Crescent Ballroom as listeners nod, bob, sway and dance, all together and all to the eclectic rock of Ladylike.

Having roamed Roosevelt Row and perused the galleries at First Fridays, my group made its way over to the Crescent. By the time we made our way into the crowd the opener had already performed (my apologies to All My Friends), and Yellow Minute was in mid-jam. Combining the passion of alternative rock with the smooth, bubbling sounds of island pop, the Tempe-based band paced and played on stage to a pretty packed audience. But even with the hopping, ecstatic movements of the lead singer and company, the crowd was left largely stoic. This is a common problem for openers, but usually not so for penultimate acts. Maybe it was the calmer tone of their songs, or that attendants were there more to drink and relax than to listen, or even that the underage area was confined to a severely-limiting pen.

The band was definitely trying: besides their sharp playing, they let balloons and beach balls into the audience, shot off a couple of glitter guns, and passed along a piƱata. Still, even with the music and the musicians implying a dancing attitude, the lead singer was hesitant to explicitly ask the crowd to dance. As dumb as it sounds, sometimes listeners need to be told exactly what to do before they’ll do it. Nevertheless, Yellow Minute played a fine, enthusiastic set, even if the audience didn’t respond in kind.

Between sets the speakers pumped a variety of odd party rap – odd because every other venue I’ve attended made a point of playing music of a style similar to the headliner. I must confess this was my first time at the Crescent, so I can’t say whether this is a regular occurrence or not. Needless to say, Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” is quite a stretch from the indie rock of Ladylike, though that didn’t stop people from dancing to it. Before long the lights had dimmed. Sounds of anticipation from the audience intermingled with rustling from the stage as two large, lit-up L’s flashed on against the wall. With a bang the band began to play and the crowd began to move. Ladylike is a quality act, switching swiftly from song to song and punctuating the ending of each so hard as to catch the listener off-guard. It keeps the electricity in the air and keeps the applause coming.

With an armory ranging from a banjo to trumpets to a sampler, the group performed their particular hodgepodge of seventies rock, contemporary indie, and power pop. What really sets Ladylike apart is their arrangement and composition – different instruments stop and start, and slowdowns and silence are each used to their fullest. “Straightjacket Love”, for instance, starts with a lonesome piano, gives way to guitars, drum and tambourine, and eventually breaks back down to piano and silence before ending strong and full.

Ladylike hit most of the tracks from their self-titled album, including “Do It to Death”, “The Auctioneer”, “Cinema Kiss”, and of course, “Leave the Boy Alone”. Hands down the best song played that night, however – and I’ll be the first to admit bias – was a cover. The lead singer prefaced the tune by explaining that the band member with the closest birthday picked which song to arrange, and presently it was the singer’s selection. An audience member asked if the song was “Pump It Up”, which the band had previously performed, but the question was met in the negative. I wondered what could be better than a live performance of Elvis Costello’s classic, and then the beat started. A thought crossed my mind, but I dismissed it immediately. Then the lyrics started and I felt my soul elate. What could be better than Elvis Costello? The Cure, that’s who. A live, full-blown cover of “Close to Me” boomed from atop the stage as I felt my head drown in disbelief. Ladylike’s originals were great, and were performed in stellar fashion. But where in this day and age am I going to hear a Cure cover live, let alone such an amazing Cure cover? It was like seeing a rare bird I hadn’t even known existed.

By the end of their set Ladylike had gotten the stoics to their feet and the toe tappers tapping harder. In the corner of my eye I even caught one fan skanking away, and though he skanked alone it didn’t really matter. What mattered was bodies moving and music flowing, heads bobbing while sound tugged them back and forth, and feet shuffling to a pattern mapped out by the noise in front of them.

And what a noise it was.

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Be sure to give Ladylike's debut a listen, and keep an eye out for any upcoming shows. Also, Yellow Minute has a new single out and All My Friends has an upcoming show at Long Wong's on the fifteenth.

Support your local music scene!
Posted on September 10, 2012


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