SPELLS set up on the floor along the south wall of the hi-dive. Wearing matching Christmas sweaters, which each member later took off, the band set the mood for what turned out to be a rowdy and light-hearted performance. Their set was perfect way to end an entire night of energetic rock, all before midnight.
The night kicked off with a rare performance from Hooper. The band was reminiscent of Hot Water Music in its choices of chords that created melodies that could wax dissonant. And just as it reached a turning point when some bands play too long, Hooper was done.
Bud Bronson & the Good Timers somehow fit several dynamic shifts and song styles in what also seemed like a very short period of time. A lot of straight-ahead rock bands these days go for old sound, and maybe Bud Bronson had a little bit of that going on, like Thin Lizzy by way of The Jim Carroll Band. Their set featured a little bit of glam and showmanship, but none of the rock and roll theatrics of the group overshadowed their great songwriting and youthful energy.
Was it Adam Cayton-Holland introducing SPELLS in Spanish? It was hard to tell in the near dark. The whole show was performed with gusto. People chanted along at the appropriate moments. Later in the set "Dusty Queef" joined in for some guitar work and what was already an amped performance got a bit more energetic. And when the group awkwardly ripped open a casing to release balloons onto the audience, it became even more ridiculous and even more of a party.
At one point singer "Little" Stevie Shithead pointed at people who had beards and dark-rimmed glasses and pointed that out and announced, "This city is having the worst plague of beard and black-rimmed glasses that I've ever seen."
Rather than just live up to its song "80% Is Good Enough," it felt like SPELLS was collectively giving us, well, at least 82%. No band overstayed its welcome, bringing enthusiasm and satisfying sets of songs.
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If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.