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April 25, 2005


Out Hud at Bowery Ballroom

Since I've become a crinkly-faced old bag, I don't go to rock shows anywhere near as often as I did when I was in my energetic mid-20's. But I did go to the Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night to see Out Hud, a band from Brooklyn that has been getting loads of positive press about their recent second album Let Us Never Speak of It Again.

Despite their unfortunate name, really stupid song titles, and a deeply hideous album cover, Out Hud is a fantastic band with big thumping beats, butt-slamming bass, two female singers (one of whom is the gorgeous and beguiling Phyllis Forbes [center of this picture] who I am a little in love with,) lots of noodly prog-rocky keyboards, and a cello. Their music is very funky, but crisp and tight too, sort of like if your favorite New Order songs were being covered by Chic.

But their best quality is that they are one of those bands who appear to be having so much fun playing their music that you wish you could be a member too. A few other bands share this quality, and since I'm talking about it, I'm going to make a short list of the bands that most look like they are having super-human fun when they perform their music. Note that this is not a ranking in terms of quality of music, and it's based on my totally subjective observation of their onstage cavorting either at shows or in videos.

1. The B-52's
Their music is not my favorite, but listen to "Butterbean" or "Junebug", and you know beyond any doubt that the members of The B-52's are having much more fun in their lives than you are.

2. Scissor Sisters
The music of Scissor Sisters, and their whole concept, gets old pretty fast. Sure, I love hearing "Take Your Mama" piped in at CVS as much as anyone, but it's not like I'm going to listen to their album while I'm cleaning the bathroom. Regardless, the charm of the band is their flamboyant and campy excitement about their music. Watching them perform, you can't help but love them, despite everything.

3. 1984-era Van Halen
This is based entirely on the videos for "Panama", "Hot for Teacher", and "Jump".

4. Out Hud
At one point during the show the whole band was jumping up and down and generally looking like their lives are filled with a euphoric joy, the likes of which you may never experience. Unfortunately, it looks the New York show was the last one of this tour, so hopefully you can catch them the next time around.

5. Orbital
Their bobbing heads with those little flashlight hats that they wear at shows, coupled with the frequent pumping of their fists in the air, gets the Hartnoll brothers on the list, especially when you consider that they are pushing 40.

You can add to the list in the comments.

categories: Music, NYC, Robot-on-the-Spot
posted by amy at 10:45 AM | #

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I would so clean the bathroom to Scissor Sisters.

Posted by: cushie at April 25, 2005 11:45 AM

Hm, maybe what I should have said is that I wouldn't sit in my apartment and listen to Scissor Sisters in a focused way, or on headphones on a plane. But maybe that band is actually made to listen to while cleaning the bathroom.

Posted by: amy at April 25, 2005 12:30 PM

There are two bands/performers I would single out based on my personal experience that still have a blast on stage, despite being a hundred years old: AC/DC and Barry Manilow. Despite their age and heavy drug use, AC/DC still had the energy level of 17 year-olds, kicking and jumping and freaking out while cannons exploded on the stage, and Barry's enthusiasm for crooning to the ladies hasn't waned since the '70s.

The other question here is obviously: which bands hate performing live, and are a total drag to watch?

Posted by: Emily at April 25, 2005 12:35 PM

Pretty much every "intelligent" indierock band from the late 1990's were a total drag live. And remember that band the Sneaker Pimps? Worst live band I have ever, ever seen.

They were opening for Aphex Twin, who actually spent his whole set lying on a couch doing things with a laptop, while people in gigantic brightly-colored bear suits wrestled and body-slammed each other on stage in front of him. His set was one of the better shows I've ever seen.

Posted by: amy at April 25, 2005 12:58 PM

Though the music got old after the first album, Flogging Molly seems like they're having an absolute blast when they play live. Ozomatli, too. It's all about having 15 people on stage.

Posted by: L at April 25, 2005 4:44 PM

One band who has sooooo much fun playing is Troubled Hubble out of Chicago. Check their website (troubledhubble.com) and go see them when they play your town. Seriously check 'em out!

Posted by: Mike at April 25, 2005 10:18 PM

damn, now you make me really regret not getting tickets. love the new out hud album. it's funny the songs start out like they're going to suck, but then they surprise. hopefully tomorrow's stars show will give me my rock show fix.

Posted by: tim at April 26, 2005 2:48 PM

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