FITZGERALD'S -- 8/12/2001: Fitzgerald's could not possibly be too crowded on a Sunday night, I thought to myself on the way to see The Impossibles (see photo at right)/Nada Surf/Ozma/Recover at that venerable shack in the Heights. A show on Sunday usually does not draw as well as the two nights prior, and the impending start of the fall semester should keep the crowd to a manageable level, right? Boy, I could not have been more wrong. Apparently, the show proved to be the event to attend before classes really dull down the evenings during the week. The shock of seeing the line stretch down the street was only surpassed by the interminable wait to get into the club.
After spending a half an hour in line, I was finally able to catch the last half of Recover's high-energy set. They really set the tone for the evening, pumping the packed house up for the rest of the night. If everyone was here just to see the headliners, it didn't show; the house was packed, and everyone came to hear the music. Notably absent was any hint of air conditioning -- normally this might not be a problem, but the middle of August in Houston, in a club packed with adolescent sardines, is not the time or place to go sans coolant.
Ozma changed the pace a little bit, after a quick set change. The five-piece played a nice set of well-written songs of love and love lost, really driven by the guitars and the story to be told. The rhythm section seemed to be a bit rudimentary, but that deficiency was offset by the nice melodies and bridges, and the sound was really fleshed out by the keyboards. I was expecting more of a "punk" show (whatever that means), but Ozma really eliminated any testosterone from their performance. The songwriting was not self-deprecating, but remained (dare I say it) sensitive. Their set was bolstered by plenty of sing-a-long support, and the catchy songs stayed away from the really sugary side of pop.
Nada Surf followed up with a very polished set, and immediately, it was clear that the three-piece was much tighter, with the lead guitars complemented very nicely by the rhythm section. The drummer was right on, utilizing the long lost art of restraint. Compared with Ozma, the songs told their story in half as many words, and with very nice chord changes and radio friendly choruses. But ultimately, Nada Surf's set proved to be un-"Popular," as the group's 1996 hit was noticeably absent from the set list.
The previously-mentioned restraint was promptly crumpled up and chucked out the window as soon as The Impossibles hit the stage; they really cranked up the intensity, as well as the testosterone level. Everyone seemed to know all of the songs by heart, and they showed it by singing along. The band clearly enjoyed their set. I don't often see a lot of smiles onstage at shows, but this time several Cheshire Cat-like grins were flashed throughout. The songs were straightforward and in your face, but unfortunately, about then the heat really began to take its toll. I saw one person being carried out of the area in a limp state of heat exhaustion, to which the staff responded by gladly dousing the crowd with buckets of water. The Impossibles set was cut short after about 40 minutes by the fire marshall (an all too familiar scene at Fitz, I'm told), and everyone had to pile out of the rickety dance hall. Despite the show, I thought it was a good call, since my face was about to melt off of my skull. Overall, the kids and the bands gave it their all, and it was a great ending to a hot summer. (Steve Olson)
The Impossibles -- http://www.theimpossibles.net/;
Nada Surf -- http://www.nadasurf.com/;
Ozma -- http://www.ozmaonline.com/;
Recover -- http://www.killrecover.com/