Monday, January 16, 2006

The Vidrines are sweating, so you'd better start humming.

This was before Bill spotted the guy with the hamburger and started molesting him.

This past Saturday night, Sara and I caught The Vidrines (Monroe, LA) at Sully's Tavern. We've seen the Vidrines literally about 5 times. The thing about this live show is that The Vidrines are extremely self-aware as far as the importance of spectacle in rock 'n' roll, and they also happen to do it very well. There are bands that, when they're in the throes of some rock n' roll rapture, just look like a put-on. It's as if they are aware that the music isn't enough to give you your five dollars worth, so they realize they have to act crazy.

I think The Vidrines really are crazy. In an ice cold, suit-wearing, tent revival, delirium tremens, distinctly Southern kind of way. These men are products of long, hot Summers, newspapers full of stories about serial killers in Florida, and whiskey. Lots and lots of whiskey. And it isn't an act. You just happen to be there when the shit goes down, and god help you if you're trying to eat a hamburger just a few feet from Bill, one of the lead singers (full disclosure: Bill is also one of my oldest and best friends). At The Sully's show, he violated this one guy's personal space over and over, all but sitting on the man's table. The response? A camera phone was produced, Bill was photographed, and the guy kept eating.

Their music is actually kind of straightforward rock and roll on the surface, albeit really too well-crafted to fit into to any contemporary scene. The bass player Justin, for example, is a musician's musician. I can literally spot the bass players in the crowd at a Vidrines show, because a few songs into the set, they're standing in front of Justin shaking their heads. The same can be said of the guitarist, Jamie, who still plays solos. This may seem like a small detail, but it's really more of a declaration of a philosophy: "We liked rock and roll better before." Before This Vidrines show, Jamie warmed up with some old David Bowie songs. No one in the audience seemed to notice, but I made a note of it because it was so damned appropriate. The Vidrines all seem to live in a world where I'd like to live, where rock and roll doesn't suck. They scream out dedications to Bon Scott between songs, they curse at audience members, they pretend to fuck the floor and leave body-shaped sweat stains on the nasty-ass concrete floor. It's just good rock and roll. Other bands try it, and you get the feeling they're vacationing in it ("I'm wearing a tie, and I'm acting crazy! It's ironic!").

On the way to the show that night, Bill made an off hand comment that before shows, he likes to watch the AC/DC episode of VH1's "Behind The Music". It is that kind of party. I think Bon Scott would enjoy The Vidrines live. I think he's be relieved that someone was carrying the torch.

Word has it that The Vidrines have finally recruited a replacement keyboardist, who they'll be breaking in with some shows in Alexandria, Lafayette and Baton Rouge. I'm excited about this. At the moment, the lack of a piano to lighten things up can lend a torchsong-y quality to every song in their catalog (which they take two hours to play live...people that is getting your five dollars' worth). It's still good stuff, mostly because everyone in the band is a fucking great musician and aware of what an entertainer's job is. But the piano took it someplace else entirely, just challenging bands to be as much fun to watch as they are, making it hard to decide which way to point your face, and reminding me more than a little of The Dismemberment Plan ("Girl O'Clock" style, not "What Do You Want Me To Say?" style).

At the end of the show, Reeve, the Vidrines manager, came up to me and made a comment to the effect of "It's only a matter of time before Bill takes his cock out on stage." It's true. If you like your rock and roll delivered with a lot of craft and precision, a storyteller's respect for a bored-senseless audience that comes to live music looking for something to shatter the monotony, and the threat that a singer may be arrested for showing his cock, this is the band for you. Get out and see these guys next time.

Here's an on-line article about The Vidrines.


Blogger Noma said...

THAT's the show I'll come see. I don't even have to tell you what I'm talking about...

7:12 AM  
Blogger Brett Roman said...

Great review Chris, I agree with everything.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Billy Vidrine said...

Awwww, thanks! It sort of scares me to think I'm heading in such an extreme direction. Maybe I should take all this down a notch or too?

9:03 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I think it is the implied possibility of the cock that matters, not the reality of the cock. I think you should take audiences right up to the line. I think it is a good thing. There are those that would cry "gimmick", but I would call it hard-working showmanship.

10:05 AM  
Blogger saratoga said...

Please, no cock. I couldn't bear to see Bill's cock.

Will the Vidrines be participating in KSCL's Battle of the Bands? Please say yes.

10:56 AM  
Blogger ren said...

i have been a vidrines fan for over a year....i hate that i missed the transitions they had from their own bands to the epitome of "rock out with your cock out" casino lounge music. but it is a beautiful thing they are only getting better.

11:06 AM  

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