Last Night: New Ancient Astronauts, The Inactivists, Little Fyodor and Babushka, Amphibious Jones @ Larimier Lounge

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Better than: Sleeping the rest of the night away would have been. Slide Show

Due to an early evening nap and a faulty alarm clock, I missed all but the last half of the last song of Amphibious Jones’s set. By the time I was fully awake, Little Fyodor and Babushka had started. This group fell somewhere between a musical act and a Saturday Night Live skit, looking and sounding like a punk rock band fronted by your crazy Russian aunt and uncle. Their songs were simple and fun, but everything revolved around the joke. Yes, it was funny, but more of a smirking chuckle than a gut-buster. And much like the SNL-type skit they resembled, the obvious question is how funny is it the second, third or fourth time through? How funny is it stretched into a career? From a single exposure, I’d guess it isn’t going to have the same impact the next go round, but maybe I’m wrong and it gets funnier each time.

The Inactivists followed with an excellent set of funky, groove-laden art rock that featured some truly excellent theremin work, funny lyrics and superb playing. Then, of course, there was the ukulele. It turns out if you push a ukulele tone through some heavy distortion, the result is an unbelievably cool sound. Thanks to the Inactivists for this lesson. That same distortion sounded great on the guitar as well, but, come on – metal ukulele? That’s good for triple bonus points.

Apart from their sweet-ass ukulele and theremin, the Inactivists had some tight songs that featured fairly complex but never overblown arrangements and a singer dressed like a retarded six year old, complete with helicopter beanie. The combination boldly stated, “Yeah, we’re pretty smart, but we’re not afraid to pretend that we’re even dumber than you are,” which is a powerful message.

Closing out the night was the steampunk space rock of the New Ancient Astronauts. Their sound takes its cues from Barrett-era Pink Floyd and Helios Creed, with just a hint of John Zorn/Mike Patton freak jazz thrown in for good measure. That’s not a bad mix in my book and apart from a few minor miscues, they delivered on the promise of such a mixture. They could stand to tighten things up a bit, but these boys deliver a potent brew of acid-fueled mindfuck that stands apart in an excellent way. It’s too bad most of the crowd had dissipated by the time they started, because their set deserved a bigger audience. – Cory Casciato Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I love a band that has a guy on stage dedicated to just running the lighting, which New Ancient Astronauts did. Random Detail: Halfway through Little Fyodor’s set I realized I had my wife’s name tag stuck to my ass, which I’m sure the people behind me found plenty amusing. By The Way: On September 15, Little Fyodor and Babushka, New Ancient Astronauts and The Skivies are having a triple-CD release party at Cricket on the Hill. Correction: The three bands are actually Amphibious Jones, New Ancient Astronauts and The Skivies. (I expect I will be flogged for the oversight. Sorry, readers, it won't happen again.)

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