Last Night...Neva Dinova, Ladyhawk, Vampire Hands @ Hi-Dive

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Neva Dinova, Ladyhawk, Vampire Hands Wednesday, April 23, 2008, Hi-Dive Better than: Drinking a bottle of NyQuil.

Looking for a night full of surprises, something completely lost to me of late, I ramped up to the Hi-Dive to experience some new rock music for the first time in ages. Of the three bands playing this warm evening, I had only ever heard Omaha’s Neva Dinova, and only very little at that. So I was in for something new and the night, for the most part, would not let me down.

Minneapolis start-ups Vampire Hands took the stage like a bulldozer and gave the audience little time to breathe. The band, a four piece, brought to the stage both an unorthodox lineup (drums, bass, drums/electronics, and guitar), and a suffocating, paranoid sound that bounced back and forth across the room. While it would be easy to compare Vampire Hands' sound to other bands (Liars and !!! come to mind), throughout the set the band proved that they have something just as original to bring to the stage. At their best drummer/singer Colin’s yelps hovered above the miasma, while the rest of the band pulsed violently, forgoing riffs for an ambient rhythmic pull.

With the room cleared after Vampire Hands, Ladyhawk came on with an approach that was the complete opposite of what had come before. It’s obvious that Ladyhawk’s appeal lies in their familiar sound. A point of reference would probably be fellow Canuck Neil Young, however the band also infused their set with riffs that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on some mid-90’s Sub Pop compilation. This is not to say that the band is unoriginal, the band does what it does well. Singer/guitarist Duffy Dreiger’s soulful vocals drive the songs, and for most of the night helped keep the band's songs from becoming indistinguishable from each other. Calling Ladyhawk an awesome bar band would probably be considered a compliment.

Unlike the transition from Vampire Hands to Ladyhawk, Neva Dinova, actually had something in common with what had come before. Neva Dinova’s sound took the elements that Ladyhawk introduced, and slowed it down to a crawl. Fronted by guitarist/singer Jake Bellows the band did their best to fill out his sparse songs with melodies and occasional noise that, for the most part, filled the gaps that would’ve otherwise made the songs tedious. The formula was mostly the same throughout the set, slow songs with long guitar solos in between. The audience was gracious and the band in turn rewarded them with some more upbeat numbers toward the end of the set. After all was said and done I walked out into the now smoke-heavy night, having seen 3 bands I wouldn’t have normally, I surprised myself, a good night indeed. -- Jeremy Brashaw

Critic’s Notebook

Personal Bias: Ladyhawk should let their second guitarist sing more often….like all the time. Random Detail: Vampire Hands are one of a handful of really great bands coming out of the Twin Cities right now. Also worth checking out; Stnnng, the Sleaze, and Signal To Trust. By the Way: Interestingly enough, Omaha’s favorite son, Bright Eyes’ Connor Oberst, was Neva Dinova’s first drummer.

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