Monday, March 30, 2009

Blank Dogs, Brilliant Colours and Nodzzz @ The Knockout, SF 3/29

Thanks to its staff and resident DJs, who have paid their dues through enough of the indie scene's ups and downs to know something good when they hear it, The Knockout has been able to host a number of up-and-coming Brooklyn bands all out of proportion with its size and location. Shows like The Vivian Girls last year (just before their album--the original pressing, that is--went to the top of the eBay watch lists of bloggers everywhere) and Blank Dogs last night are must-see events if you live in SF and care about what goes on in that far away land where indie bands move to "make it," whatever that means in this day and age. Blank Dogs definitely fit that NY mold, teetering precariously between punk and post-punk with hints of the Ramones and Television as well as early Cure and, most interestingly, with a rickety home-built synth lurking off in the corner, Pere Ubu. As you might expect from a relatively new band with a toweringly large discography (Mr. Blank Dog is an avid home recorder, apparently), some songs hit the mark more than others. The untapped potential of that synth, though, looking so weird and cool yet not making much of a sound, was the real disappointment of their set.

Despite the occasional heavy-hitting touring band, however, some of the most exciting stuff going on at The Knockout is decidedly home-grown. The only San Francisco band on much-hyped NY label What's Your Rupture?, Nodzzz humbly took the opening slot, starting the party off right with a different set of late '70s influences, this time closer to the nerdy Athens, GA college rock of the DBs, recalling the B-52's, even, in the time before they hooked up with a producer ("I'm from Planet Z!", shouted one guitarist). Nodzzz have gotten a lot of attention already, but it is nice to have them here as a local band and playing around frequently. They really do put on a fun show. Sandwiched between them and Blank Dogs were Brilliant Colours, a relatively new local band who have the honor of opening both this show and the aforementioned Vivian Girls gig last year, and who are quickly finding their sound, putting their own mark on the '80s indie anglophilia that their name evokes. Like a poppier Wedding Present or a less distorted Black Tambourine, they've been looking for the sweet spot between energy and melody, and they're getting pretty close to finding it; their debut 7" has just been released and is definitely worth picking up. All in all, it was one of those all-too-rare nights: come for the out-of-town band you keep hearing about, leave amazed instead by everything that's going on in your own backyard.

-DJ In the Manner of a Leprechaun

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