The Parties

It was Sarah's last show as a member of The Parties and I'm sure she'll be missed playing that thing stage right--is that a Gibson? Anyway, The Parties, it sounds pretty tight, and lo and behold, you can actually make out many a word. Word? Word. Very danceable, too, but people rarely dance at Du Nord, judging from what I've seen there. But you could dance to the Parties at Du Nord if you wanted to. We're not fascists yet.

Anywho, bon voyage, Sarah. They sounded pretty good with her . . . pass the beer nuts. But what will become of their high end? We'll see, I guess. Meanwhile The Parties win the award for coolest-looking kickdrum. It has "The Parties" tagged thereupon in some retrofit party type. "The Parties" was my favorite of what they played, besides "Life's a Gas," an old T. Rex tune the provenance of which they forgot to share with us; partying a bit too hard, presumably, to remember who wrote what. But it's cool, it was a bit of alright.

Alright then, Dora Flood. It sounds fair, the songs are loud, wet and moody, sweepingly evocative. A wall of sound, you know the drill. Decently arranged stuff, lots of minors and slow changes but still a throaty rock and roll rumble. Man it would suck to be in Iowa City right now.

Alas, the dreaded vocal dragged them under. Especially in a basement venue like Du Nord, it's about tweaking the levels . . . granted, not always the easiest thing to do. But you probably get a thorough sound check at Du Nord, too, so really there's not much of an excuse for not being heard, even in a basement with a low ceiling and expensive hamburgers. Turn down if you need to turn down. People always come with this "but you can never hear vocals at live shows" excuse. Balogna, homie. I heard this band Turning Point play at a laundromat a couple weekends ago. Talk about cheese. (Yes, I'm making a cheap sandwich. Got any whitebred?) They list Matchbox 20 and Three Doors Down as influences. You could hear them just fine. Why? Because the 40something lead vocalist of Turning Point turned his fancy electric guitar down so as not to drown out his own vocals, and he was singing through another band's PA, no less, and without the benefit of a sound check.

If you're going to bother singing lyrics, they should be intelligible. Else, scream them at us and we'll probably likey likey.

I hate to have turned this review into a rant about the indie scene's greatest plague, the unintelligible live vocal, but it is what it is. Like I said above, though, screaming is cool if that's what you're about. I mean, it'll work. So will rapping. So will a Teddy Pendergrass sample looping around on a sequencer. But I don't think that's the kind of stuff Dora Flood is about, really.

I'm not sure if lead singer Stephen Cavoretto always sings a quarter tone flat; maybe he does, he knows it, and is therefore reluctant to turn down and belt it out. Or maybe he had a cold, or maybe I had an ear infection, or maybe I was a quarter tone off thanks to too much wheat beer and ennui, but I can say with all certainty that, like with so many other bands on the garage/indie scene in this our little the City, you couldn't understand a word.

Didn't see much of The Junior Panthers, who played last, so I'll reserve comment except to say that their new CD sounds pretty alright. Alright then.