Last night: Burn Sand Burn, Circle Number Dot and Wetlands at the hi-dive

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Burn Sand Burn, Circle Number Dot and Wetlands
Thursday, August 20
Better Than:

more soul-killing boredom

Now, my tastes generally run pretty poppy (I like Dressy Bessy), and to that end, Wetland's prog-metal is not really my style. But like those great prog bands of yore, Wetlands, who opened the show, play songs that are ultimately anchored in sweet, satisfying hooks. And while the act's overall sound errs on the sludgy side, the band masterfully executes the unexpected phrase and the jarring loud/quiet juxtaposition. And the willfully retarded and badly sung lyrics (wisely, the singing is sparse) somehow work, bringing an element of silly self-deprecation to an otherwise challenging mix. If Rush were distilled into malt liquor, drunk and thrown up by the Melvins and then run through a distortion pedal, it might come out something like Wetlands.

Burn Sand Burn, whose CD release party it was, actually started its set off strong, with a hooky, some-seven-minute song that at first reminded me of an old Cure tune I couldn't place, then veered off into staccato power-chord punches, a dub-ish breakdown and then some admirable shredding. But the following songs had neither the hooks nor the ambition of that first one, and toward the middle of the set, my interest waned, and I began chatting with the guy next to me and thinking about the double espresso I planned to order from Sputnik next door when it was over. The lyrics failed to grab me. The singing was featureless and often flat. The guitar-bass-drums setup (not that I'm knocking the power trio -- it can be done right) lacked texture. There were some nice grooves here and there, but it wasn't enough.

During Circle Number Dot's set, I thought about an Exploited shirt I saw earlier in the day that said "Punk's Not Dead." Circle Number Dot made me disagree. While I surely would have creamed my pants over the band's shouty, Minor Threat-y punk rock when I was fifteen, that shit just doesn't do anything for me anymore. And it's not that the band wasn't good: The drummer beat those things as hard and fast as the DPD beats protesters, and the bassist laid down some pretty sweet Matt Freeman-style shreddage. But -- and maybe this is just my age talking -- I really need more from a song lyrically than the word "hey!" repeatedly shouted for three minutes these days.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I'm jealous if everyone in Wetlands' hair. Damn you, baldness!
Random Detail: The lead singer of Burn Sand Burn made little hand motions to go along with his lyrics
By the Way: I borrowed a fancy camera to take pictures, which worked out well until the last set, right before which I pressed some button that made the camera not take pictures anymore, and I couldn't figure out how to make it take pictures again. So I didn't get any of Circle Number Dot. Sorry about that.

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