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First off, I should note that though I was at this show primarily to see Bleeding Rainbow, who played second, I missed headliner The Cave Singers since it was a work night and all. Thus, I can’t review them.
Nevertheless, I don’t know if I’d have wanted to stick around for more than a couple of songs anyway as Bleeding Rainbow’s set at a half-filled Johnny Brenda’s on a sleepy Thursday simply blew me away. When we last checked in with their live show last April at PhilaMOCA with Coasting and Chain and the Gang, they’d just changed their name from Reading Rainbow. Not only that, but they’d expanded to a four-piece (from their initial beginnings as a duo featuring then drummer now bassist/guitarist/lead singer Sarah Everton and guitarist/bassist Rob Garcia) and changed their sound from relatively genteel, lo-fi indie-pop to a full-on shoegaze goes punk roar not completely unlike a looser take on The Joy Formidable, but more influenced by Wipers and Sonic Youth than say, Swervedriver or Lush. In any case, I was impressed but last night was different. To say they’d make strides would be an understatement. Perhaps a change in drummers was the final piece of the puzzle, as now they are as powerful as ever. Playing a set consisting mostly of songs from the recently-released, excellent Yeah Right (as well as one song from a tape called Initiation to Infinity that was released last year as a demo), Garcia stormed the stage like a taller, leaner, young James Williamson with volume and attitude to spare while he and guitarist Al Creedon made an almost heart-stopping racket (it was so loud that I could actually feel the volume at times). If I had one minor complaint, it’s that Everton’s beautiful voice can get lost in the haze of volume, even with the excellent sound system at Johnny Brenda’s. Truthfully, though, it didn’t much matter as their volume and power, coupled with refreshing tunefulness that’s sometimes lacking in dream-pop (just try getting “Waking Dream” out of your head or to not play it five times in a row when you first hear the recorded version), just took over and captivated me. Another way their live show differs from their new record is in how they sometimes (OK, frequently) extend the songs with almost improvised outros that attempt the scale the walls of noise of heroes like Sonic Youth (often successfully). If you ever have a chance to see this band, do it! Even when Everton and Garcia switched instruments, there was no let-down in the intensity level at all!
Wrong World, the first band of the night, was a pleasant surprise. Their first song reminded me of early ’80s post-punk like Pylon with vocalist Rachel reminding me of Vanessa Briscoe Hay while others reminded me of Captain Beefheart circa Doc at the Radar Station, mainly due to the guitar playing (which recalled Robert Quine‘s work with The Voidoids on occasion, too). Wow!