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Concert review: Birds and Batteries at Lola's Saloon

Birds and Batteries Lola’s Saloon 2736 West 6th St. Fort Worth 817-877-0666 www.lolasfortworth.com

Posted 10:46am on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012

When it comes to music, I prefer domestic cuisine. Most of what I listen to in my car, the shows I go to ... I focus on local music. The way I see it, not only is there community connection – there is an element of exclusivity to the thing. When I go see Sally Majestic, I can feel smug that those poor bastards in New York are missing out. And should one of the local bands break big, well, I was into them when they were approachable.

Yet sometimes I get curious about what’s going on in distant lands, and Saturday was one of those nights. Lucky for me, Birds and Batteries (from the Bay Area) were playing the middle position on the Good Show bill at Lola’s. I gave in and sampled the imported fare.

I knew I was in trouble when I drove down 6th street and saw all the cars lined up on both sides of the street. Lola’s, like most Funkytown venues, has little parking and lots of music geeks. It took me two passes to find a spot where I was reasonably certain my car would still be there when I got back. The Salsa Limon food truck was setting up in the venue’s only two parking spaces.

Inside, there was an ethereal kind of sound coming out of the speakers and it was wall-to-wall people. Air Review out of Dallas was finishing up an obviously successful set (judging by the crowd reaction). I didn’t get to hear much, only part of a song, but I dug what I heard. I’ll check these guys out later.

It was about then that Tony Diaz, Tom Urquhart, and Janice of KTCU wandered by. No sighting, however, of anyone from the state comptroller’s office. (That’s unlike the bizarre scene reported during the July 28 Good Show Live Music series show, when agents from the comptroller’s office came in around midnight and performed a “limited seizure” of the cash the bar and venue had on hand. The money was applied to mixed beverage taxes owed – reportedly upwards of $13,000 – by Lola's Saloon for the months of April, May and June.)

On Saturday night, the Good Show folks took over the stage and announced Birds and Batteries, with Mike Sempert (vocals, keyboard), Jill Heinke (keyboard, vocals, bass), Christopher Walsh (guitar) and Colin Fahrner (drums). They are a touring band from San Francisco, and according to their Facebook page, they play experimental indie pop.

Experimental indie pop covers it as good as anything, I guess. Their tunes are melodic, and musically complex. There is a taste of Talking Heads in there, that wonderful sonic geekiness, and although the bass player looks a bit more like a young Laraine Newman than Tina Weymouth, she has a touch of that style. The guitar work was animated and tasteful, and the beat rock steady. Synthesizers were distorted, creative and edgy. The crowd loved them like they were our own, and one drunk made himself too much at home and jumped on stage to show this crowd his skill at drinking beer from a bottle.

As much as a local zealot as I am, I must admit this was a nice change of pace. I used to get this kind of electronic fix from Transistor Tramps, and I miss them terribly. This was something different still, however, and not as hard-edged. It was more light-hearted, friendlier, and you didn’t get that jolt of primitive fear you got when Elle Hurley yelled at you. I guess I miss that, too.

Finishing up the night was a stellar performance (as usual) from Telegraph Canyon. Honestly, I expect nothing less from those people, and they never have disappointed me. I sat on the front patio and listened to them while I talked with friends – and that’s the other benefit of going to a local show – the people, the community and the shared experience. Fort Worth is as good in this area as it gets anywhere, and we’re blessed to be a part of it.

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