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City, Music

Sunset Rubdown @ Sala Rossa

Posted by Trixie / July 26, 2006

Sunset-Rubdown-2.jpgSo there’s this guy I kinda know; he’s a peripheral acquaintance I guess you could say. He doesn’t so much converse as go on amusingly demented rants, and the night of the Sunset Rubdown show at Sala Rossa he caught up with me and went on precisely such a rant. But this time it was less the spouting of crazy—if often compelling—theories, which is his usual mode, and more disclosures of a way-too personal nature, like the damage that a too-liberally-applied depilatory cream did to his nether regions. Don’t they have to give warnings about such things? he wondered. I ventured that they likely did provide just such a warning. But also that if he’d applied common sense instead of all that toxic cream, he may have avoided getting chemical burns on his tenderest bits.

I start with this charming anecdote to illustrate—using the most socially and psychically taxing, but not the only, example—of how my night ended up being characterized by distraction. I wish I could do more justice to Sunset Rubdown, since undeniably Spencer Krug and cohorts put on a stand-up show. But, though I was keen to see the band and thus keen to devote some concentration to it, my attention was consistently taken up by other environmental factors.

This may have had something to do with why opening band Ladyhawk failed to move me, but I will nonetheless stand by my blasé impression. Many around me seemed really into them, and I guess the band were giving it their all, but, other then a few promising numbers, their Neil Young-wannabe brand of classic rock seemed designed to be tuned out. Accomplished enough, but generic.

Sunset Rubdown is decidedly not generic. Spencer’s music, his yelping, hiccoughing delivery, and his impossibly maintained back-breaking bent-over-the-keyboards posture: all utterly distinctive. Nonetheless, something about the show made it hard to pinpoint just what impression to take away. Part of this is the side-project status of the band. I realize that it is a fallacy necessarily to think of Wolf Parade as the Ur-band, but, to my mind, this incarnation of Sunset Rubdown supports this theory. The band was pretty great and Spencer’s considerable, idiosyncratic talents were ably displayed. The show even reached moments of near-greatness, though most of it was at the (not unimpressive) level of consistently interesting. But somehow this presentation failed to completely gel. And not in that way that Wolf Parade can sometimes, live, seem wildly ragged and out-of-sync but still beautiful. This Sunset Rubdown show just proved, for me, that though Spencer’s sensibilities and songwriting abilities deserve special attention no matter what band name they appear under, the inspired, driving wonder that is Wolf Parade definitely comes from the particular synthesis of the group as a whole. And that is not yet a groove in which Sunset Rubdown is working. Which does not diminish the particular, unique and touchingly kooky thing that Sunset Rubdown already works so well.

And in the touchingly kooky vein, the band’s cover of Prince through Sinead O’Conner’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” as an encore number was a lovely surprise—who woulda thought that this song would be perfectly embodied by this band?

And one more anecdote for the touchingly kooky file:
Spencer introducing his putting on of a bulky fabric headband, complete with zippered pocket in the front, made by a friend of his.

“I used to apologize for sweating so much. Now I just apologize for lookin’ this fucking good,” he gamely told us.
And he did look good, if ridiculous. And pulling off both at the same time is no negligible feat. My point is, it’s hard not to love what Spencer Krug does, no matter what the incarnation.

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