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Over the Weekend: Kissing Party at the Hi-Dive

Kissing Party w/Bad Weather California Friday, August 28, 2009 hi-dive Better Than: What some would say of a Kissing Party show.

The Bad Weather California set started off with Chris Adolf playing the recorder, making the song sound like a madrigal or a Kung Fu episode, before the band kicked into "I Don't Know." The slide guitar and Chris's Peavy 160 came together like a warped, melting chord structure during "Love Will Be My Home," even as Adolf fed the guitar back into itself to make it sound as though there were three or more guitarists on stage.

During "New Religion," I noticed how Logan Corcoran played polyrhythms and wove in dual textures while doing so--no easy feat. Without naming specific people or political parties, "This is My Country Too" avoided the protest-rock trap of being too topical but not striking to the heart of the problem. Instead, with intensity and intelligence, coupled with kind of silly melody seemingly meant to have fun with the jerks of the world, Adolf and the rest of the band challenged us to look at what we're focusing on while also making a defiant statement of where they're drawing the line.

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The set ended with a newer song that opened with a psychedelically tinged, Zeppelin-esque riff and closed with a sonic freakout of chaotic rhythms and delay-manipulation-produced cyclones of guitar feedback. The set was a little loose, but in a way that allowed the band to be freer with its performance.

Appropriately enough, the Kissing Party section of the show began with "Leader of the Pack" playing over the P.A. Fog machines blew curling drifts across the stage and Gregg Dolan had set up two arrays of lights to create a real mood for the show. One was a device called "Table Disco," which consisted of two tiny disco balls mounted on to a small base. Another lighting device cast rainbow hues across the stage, bathing Dolan, Lee Evans and Deidre Sage in multiple hues. Most of the songs came from the band's most recent release, The Hate Album, including "Let's Face These Times," "My Least Favorite Kind of Anything" and "I Just Want to Get Out of This Body." But, after some wag in the audience cried out for it a few times, and after Sage responded with, "We'll never play that here tonight," the Party treated us to an old favorite: "The Girl Who Warmed Your Way." What struck me with this particular performance was how each song, though emotionally delicate, melodic, and sometimes verging on the perversely poignant, had a forward moment, even urgency, which gave an immediacy to the music that I usually associate with more aggressive styles of rock. Since first seeing this band two or three years ago, I've seen some not-so-great shows, but also some remarkable performances. This rated among the latter.

Bias: I'm a fan of all the bands on this bill. Random Detail: For once it wasn't hard to find parking on a Friday night. By the Way: Despite that now infamous interview, Gregg Dolan is actually a cool guy.

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