Next up was Letters from the Front, who boasts Dan Aid, a guitarist whose arm looks to have been amputated or something at mid-forearm. Dude’s ridiculous. Somehow he manages to play -- just as well, I might add, if not better, than a lot of cats I’ve seen with a pair of fully functional apendages -- by attaching a pick to what appears to be a popsicle stick that is then shoved under a wristband (click here to see photos of this and more). The sight was one of the most amazing things I've witnessed in recent memory. The mind boggles. Letters closed its set with a highly capable pop punk version of “Love is a Battlefield.”
After a brief changeover, the members of the Brotherhood took the stage, one by one, clad in colonial costume, each one reading facts about the state of Virgina, like a fifth grade pageant. The makeshift-skit was obviously in honor of the new disc, which is titled The Glory of Olde Virgina. Upon shedding its outfits, the quartet commenced to deliver a flawless, face melting set. After playing the last song, the players gathered stage right and toasted each other with a round of victory shots (no doubt for the excellent performance, but also for the fact that their disc was done in time for the show; due to a glitch in the manafacturing process, they were almost forced to play their CD release show without CDs), while the crowd demanded an encore. The outfit happily obliged in the form of “Bury Me,” Virgina’s defacto centerpiece.
Saturday night, I headed to Bender’s Tavern for the final night of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club's two night stand. I missed Machine Gun Blues, but made it in time to watch Magic Cyclops tangle with a belligerent heckler, whom he ended up personally ejecting from the club. Antagonizing the crowd in typical Cyclops fashion, the Magic one inspired taunting from several members of the audience, including a rather large dude with a beard. After enduring Beardo’s jeers for a few numbers, Cyclops hopped off the stage mid-song and, without skipping a beat, put his arm around the guy and walked him to the front door, where he then preceded to fling him towards the bouncers insisting that they, “Throw this asshole out" (Click here for a slideshow featuring Cyclops and Beardo as well as shots from the rest of the evening.)
Slim and Munly closed out the night in top form with particularly spine-tingling renditions of "Rise and Shine," “Magalina Hagalina” and “This Is How We Do Things in the Country.” As frontmen, the pair are riveting, which has made it easy to overlook the other players the many times I've seen the act in the past. For whatever reason, this time out, I chose to focus my attention on the other players, primarily drummer Ordy Garrison and guitarist Dwight Pentacost. Although the two charismaniacs who lead the band are unquestionably the focal point of the group, the other guys add an undeniable amount of intensity in their own right. Garrison drives the unit with timekeeping that's precise yet organic and sweepingly dynamic, while Pentacost's playing infuses the rustic songs with an ethereal edge.
If you haven't seen the Auto Club, trust me when I say this: The whole thing will make you want to rise and shine and give God the glory, glory.
-- Dave Herrera