I was kind of in a funk this week (and not the fun, George Clinton kind, either). So and I decided to head down to Berry Street to cheer myself up. The absolute best and worst times of my life happened on that stretch of road, and I realized it had been way too long since I had been at the Moon Bar. I walked in, and Taylor Craig Mills was behind the bar, Dave Matsler was running sound, and there were what appeared to be three young kids splattered in blood onstage, just rocking the hell out of the joint.
It felt like home.
The trio is called the Frisky Disco. And while I'm used to seeing great bands at the Moon, these guys came out of left field. Hayden Miller was providing drums and lead vocals that had kind of a demented Billy Corgan quality. We also had Tyler Vela (guitar) and Jonnie Mansfield (bass) to round out this rather odd trio.
The band's instrumentals have a Led Zeppelin/Willie Dixon kind of influence. (Since Zeppelin built a career out of "borrowing" from Dixon, that's understandable.) "We really wanted to bring back that blues vibe," Miller told me, of developing the Frisky Disco's sound. "We feel like the real rock 'n' roll essence is blues.... So much of what is listed today as mainstream is just synthetic instruments and synthetic vocals."
The overall experience? Think frantic, psychedelic rock with a more modern, less geezer-rock edge to it. The entire room was energized. The band's originals were fast-paced, and the guitar had that kind of erratic, dynamic quality that Page was so good at. The only cover of the night was a version of Jumping Jack Flash that I much preferred to the original.
As for the group's odd, blood-splattered look, Miller explained it thusly: "We needed something to catch the audience's eye, to make them look at us. And that's the way to do it -- look like you just got the s--- beat out of you."
Next on the bill, we had Alexander's Joyful Noises, with Alex Riegelman (guitar, vocals) and Ryan Seward (drums). They started off pretty high energy, with kind of a crazy surfer beat. But after the Frisky Disco, the performance was something of a buzz kill. The songs that followed were a lot more low-key and more pop-sounding. One number featured a backing track of spoken-word samples of Son House and Allen Ginsberg -- although auto-tuned a bit to fit the pitch. And while sometimes creative, the music also felt a bit contrived.
The final group of the night was the Dirty Dandies, featuring Patrick Dougherty (vocals, guitar), Chris Mansfield (drums, vocals) Chris Carfa (guitar, vocals) and Ted Bogart (bass, vocals). At times, these guys sounded like an unholy cross between the Band and the Clash; at others, they played straight-up rock 'n' roll.
They were high-energy and more consistently on target than Alexander's Joyful Noises. But, again, the Dirty Dandies suffered from the sonic thrashing the club had taken from the Frisky Disco. It's sometimes hard to shift gears that aggressively over the course of a single night. Still, I loved the Dandies' performance, and I wanted to hear more of it.
Seems to me, this bill just needed a bit of rejiggering: If I had my way, Alexander's Joyful Noises would have opened, the Dirty Dandies would have been in the middle and the Frisky Disco would have headlined. It just would have been a more natural flow. The way things stood, it felt a little like watching a movie backward. We started with the thriller car-chase finale and had nowhere to go from there.
For more information about the Frisky Disco and the Dirty Dandies, check out www.euphiorecords.com.