This Little Underground

So, you been diggin' this;extended winter? Ha! Take that, vacationers!


The Beat


Speaking of tourists, local country band Giddy Up Go (March 4, Will's Pub) kind of resembles a group of them right now. If they'd get over the novelty aspect of their chosen genre and get real, these guys could ;actually be decent. There are seriously some good melodies in their songs, and that's as solid a foundation as it gets.

However, the same bill provided this week's best surprise with Philadelphia's Hymn for Her. The domestic duo of Maggi Jane and Pierce Ternay tour and record in a vintage 16-foot travel trailer with their toddler, though I didn't personally see that little thing play shit. Their amalgam of folk, blues and bluegrass ain't no easygoing sweet-tea affair. It's an intensely haunting, alternative vision that sometimes strikes cutting moods.

He basically plays a one-man band setup with drums and banjo, while she makes them a full band. They employ a cigar-box guitar with only a few strings that, when fed through her pedals and played with a slide, has a wild, untamed drone that's just enormous in presence. But despite their intriguing instrumentation, a big part of their sound is the vocal dynamism between the two, like when they rocked a Zeppelin cover where the ;typical guitar parts were performed with their voices. 

Together, it all weaves extraordinary atmosphere. From otherworldly meditations to fire-breathing rave-ups where banjos are banged like bongos, their live show is riveting and transcendental. Hymn for Her conjure a grippingly modern vision of folk that's completely free of cliché. Though they're Northerners, they seem to love Florida because they play here a lot, including a couple upcoming dates (March 26 at Copper Rocket, March 29 at Stardust Video & Coffee). Do yourself a solid and check 'em out.

Local band the Soul Birds (March 5, Will's Pub) are a proudly regressive act. Touching on the '60s, the '70s, big blues-rock, even woodsy folk rock, they hit every classic rock note imaginable. Now the tag "classic rock" may give you a justifiable shiver, but this trio has good influences and is anything but some lame dinosaur bar band. With some serious wardrobe demonstrating a penchant for animal prints, tie-dye and crazy-ass pattern combinations, they totally live the gimmick. Like I've said before, if you're gonna do it, go all the way. And all these young dudes do it and do it pretty respectably.

Later up the road was the CD release for local psych-gaze band Cotton Candy Cookies and Cream (Copper Rocket), who brought out the weird big time with animal costumes and all. As for the sax-playing lion, well, that cat's a liability. The horn has a neutralizing effect on their guitar-driven sonic power. The massive effects are key to this band's appeal and it was simply absent this time.

There's something mighty in Minneapolis' water when it comes to rap and a couple of its notable talents rolled through (March 3, Back Booth). I really dig the music of headliner P.O.S. but I had yet to be convinced of him as a live act. I've only seen him perform as an opener in a large room and it sucked. All the will of his impassioned delivery couldn't save him from just sounding flimsy. In more up-close environs this time, his trademark fire burned brightly and with full force. But as good as he was, much of the actual music that frames his raps was muted, which is unfortunate because it's a critical and distinguishing element of his sound.

Though it took her a while to hit her swagger, opener Dessa showed a solid combination of genuine singing voice and sharp rap flow when she finally did. But I suspect the basic track-act format is too constrictive to showcase her particular range, at least for a concert of any real size. What she needs to render her virtues in full color is live accompaniment, even if it's as simple as just a human drummer. 

It's an energy that would allow her to truly get swept up into her own music, which she seemed on the verge of doing only occasionally. A more robust format would bring her game to the next level and make her a heavyweight contender.

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