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Pinebender at Great Scott

I had a brief internal debate between seeing Mission of Burma at the Paradise and Pinebender at Great Scott, but the higher-ranking band on my best of 2006 list won out. Having seen Pinebender in three cities in Illinois (at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago with Engine Down and Taking Pictures, at the Prairie House in Bloomington with the Botanists, and at that hookah bar in Champaign with Denali), I know quite well that they come off better live than on record, earning their “drudge” sub-genre with a loping pace and stomach-churning baritone guitar.

Blanketeer opened up, but since I had a chance to talk indie-rock shop with notorious baby killer Scott Peterson, I didn’t pay too much attention to their keyboard-centric blend of indie lite. I remember talking about how rare it is for me to sit through the entirety of an unknown opening band’s set nowadays, but Blanketeer’s MySpace page made them seem innocuous enough.

I moved to the front of the stage for Pinebender’s set, which started with “Simp Twister” from Things Are About to Get Weird. Hearing this slow-burner gradually rise above the din of the crowd until it finally kicked in and grabbed people’s attention was quite amusing, since Pinebender’s affection for high volume levels noticeably ended a few conversations. “Begin Here” and “Mask Tree” were the pre-“Parade of Horribles” highlights. I can’t underscore how well that song comes off live. Both guitarists get lengthy solos, but drummer Dennis Stacer’s vicious beat is the band’s secret weapon. As much as the fourteen-minute-long song should be always the set-closer, I wanted them to play another one so I could request the twelve-minute-long“There’s a Bag of Weights in the Back of My Car.” They didn’t. I talked to Stephen for a while afterward and insisted that they should play four song sets from now on, and he said that they consider doing so from time to time. I also asked if there were any plans to press the other albums on vinyl (Things Are About to Get Weird just got a super limited pressing on double vinyl—grab it soon), but it seems unlikely.

The Big Sleep headlined with their metropolitan brand of post-rock, primarily recalling a looser version of Trans Am’s Futureworld. I specified metropolitan with either Brooklyn (their actual home) or Los Angeles in mind, since there was a certain trumping of style (aesthetic) over substance (songs) that I couldn’t fathom coming out of the Midwest. Vocals occasionally stumbled out over the Krautrock grooves and wiry guitar riffs, but it was effectively an instrumental set. Unless they pull Scott McCloud from Girls Against Boys on board, they should drop the vocals. Enjoyable enough, but not something I need to listen to at home.

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