RUDYARD'S -- 5/29/2001: Something about Rudyard's really makes me dread seeing shows there. It's not that the venue sucks, or anything -- having played there, I would say just the opposite, that it looks and sounds great, and that the folks are cool as hell. Maybe it's because I don't drink, and it's virtually like a required thing there, or maybe it's just because a lot of bands I've seen there have bored the crap out of me, or maybe I just don't like the "sit, drink and watch" mentality of the patrons. Whatever the case, I was interested to see how this show would go over with the usual Rudyard's-goers' unwillingness to dance; from what I'd heard, I was about to see some dance-inciting (or, at the very least, "head-bopping-inciting") bands. Predictably, my stereotype remained intact throughout Patrick O'Donnell's set. He's a solo singer/songwriter that plays an acoustic guitar and wails about pretentious stuff in that typical SoHo coffeehouse style (even though he's from DC, I believe). O'Donnell's a good guitarist, and at times, an interesting singer (he actually reminded me a lot of Gordon Gano, both lyrically and instrumentally), but he just lacked something to overcome the "solo singer/songwriter" stigma. Energy, snappy banter, whatever...it just wasn't there.
Dirt Bike Annie was second, and they quickly got the crowd into it with power-punk-pop tunes that were catchy as hell, lots of singalong choruses, tight vocal harmonies, and guitar choreography. Any band with guitar choreography, timed jumps, and silk-screened panties on their merch table should automatically win a Grammy. These cats literally exploded onto the stage like Rocket from The Weezer and did not let up for one second during their 45 minutes. There were no disposable songs in their set, and each member of the frontline (Adam Rabuck -- guitar, Daniel Paquin -- bass, Jeanie Lee -- guitar) took his or her turn singing. The unisex harmonies/screaming really added a nice dimension to the proceedings and kept things quite interesting. Most importantly, though, there's nothing cooler than seeing a cute, small-framed Asian girl playing the shit out of a Gibson Explorer that's twice her size.
After Dirt Bike Annie's taking of the stage, the Hissyfits were really going to have to deliver. Unfortunately, while the band is good, they did not reach the heights of the previous act (the bar was set pretty high, mind you). The Hissyfits play an interesting blend of pop, punk and post-punk rock that's equal parts Go-Go's, Ramones and Nirvana, and even reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine at times. The songs are well-crafted, every one a hit, but there was just...something lacking from the stage performance. The subdued manner in which the Hissyfits played (although drummer P-Girl would burst into frenetic skin-flaying fits on occasion) was a stark and unwelcome contrast to Dirt Bike Annie. It was late, by the way, so maybe they were just worn out, which would be understandable, and as I said before, the songs were still quite good (I especially dug "Lock N' Load," a fast-paced, hellraising rave-up, and "Baby," which reminded me of Matthew Sweet's pop jones at its finest). I would recommend giving the Hissyfits a listen, and when they head back through town, check 'em out for yourself. This tour's "all right" show could be a great one the next time around. (Mel House)
The Hissyfits -- http://www.hissyfits.com/;
Dirt Bike Annie -- http://www.dirtbikeannie.com/