Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hey Predator!, The Denial Tone, DD/MM/YYYY – December 9 at Il Motore

Hey Predator!
Tonight Hey Predator! transitioned from being I band I like because they're good and because they're friends of mine to one that I just like. Maybe it was Il Motore's surprisingly good sound, or because they were in a spot I think they envisioned themselves at their name-release party a couple years ago (before they changed "Hate" to "Hey" and dropped the super-scenester comma), or even because vocalist/poetry-yeller Taylor used to work out. Whatever the reason, they topped even their solid Divan set this past fall.

Opener "This is a Pregnancy Pact" was especially strong, with (one of three) guitarist Tristan's fingers running up and down the neck like it was a fast-paced game of Snakes 'n Ladders, while on the next song, his second tapping hand forced the notes to bounce back and forth in a mathy match of Pong. The tightness of these relatively newer songs even managed to supersede the go-to closer of "Puncture Wounds," whose aggressive group vocals (they scream "fucking"!) always gets people's attention. Hopefully Hey Pred continues to get the Blue Skies Turn Black-level shows they deserve.

The Denial Tone
Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for the high-pitched, mid-heavy barrage of The Denial Tone's garage-punk. They pounded out tight enough tracks, with the guitars often veering into intruiging territory, but it just didn't seem like the band really felt it, and neither did I.

DD/MM/YYYY (pronounced "day month year") excels in cathartic yet contained psych-math explorations. Tonight, they delivered much of Black Square, perhaps their most successful studio outing, in all its instrument-swapping, drum-spattering, echo-y-vocal glory. After the show, guitarist/vocalist/drummer Tomas Del Balso explained that the switching comes from the band's democratic songwriting process ("We wanted a no holds barred approach"), where all five members bring song ideas to the table and determine who plays what accordingly. "It's a problem and a good thing," he said.

Instead of forcing the listener to choose between spacing out or dancing a frantic jig, the band smartly allows for both, showcasing their controlled experiments with playful ease. Del Balso also noted that although the band's complex output still relies on "pretty conventional weapons – guitar, drums, and keys, nothing too obscure – but the way we play them is our personality." As might be expected, for this band the message isn't solely in the vocals, but in the rhythms, too. "We want to leave people thinking for themselves, and about their expectations for what a band should and could be."