Hats off to Steve Rodgers and EVERYONE involved in putting together last night’s show at The Outer Space. It was what every club/venue owner, general manager, booking agent and promoter strives for. The bill was perfection.
It is not easy to find a decent opener who is a lesser-known, looking for a break, fits the vibe of the headliner, can potentially glean some new fans and is GOOD. Then to come up with middle act(s) who are the next step up, more seasoned, again fit the style of the headliner and bring some of their fans into the mix? The good part should be a given based on earning enough chops to be put in that slot on the bill. However, the other parts, not always that easy or well mastered. Finally comes the headliner who brings old fans who know the words, show-up with their energy already turned up but also inviting everyone else in the place to become new fans and stand shoulder to shoulder with the veterans to close the night in a crescendo of music, motion and applause. Putting together that kind of a night is rare at best.
That is exactly what happened at The Outer Space. By 8:30, when The Goonies from Middletown took the stage, the room was over half full. Familiar faces populated every table and more than one bar stool, all of them giving their complete attention to the six musicians at the front of the room. The Goonies mix rap, hip-hop, and alt rock in a concoction that makes people feel good. The perfect matched, balanced pair of vocalists work well-written positive lyrics. Both can carry a tune, harmonize and kick out a good rap. The guitarist holds together the melody while keys and bass work in tandem on the rhythm line. The drummer keeps it all moving without overpowering any other lines. The band has great chemistry. They really seem to like each other along with loving performing. They are definitely more than a step up from garage act. There’s an impression that they are inspired by Gym Class Heroes but there’s not the ego issues and the instrumentals were more complex. It’s obvious these guys spend time creating their music. By the end of their set, they got a few people out of their seats dancing while most of the rest at least got their hands up for the last song. The Goonies succeeded in warming up the group for the next two acts.
Mike Falzone is a Space veteran but tonight he graduated to The Outer Space. Bringing the band with him this time and going harder-edge electric, was a great initiation for Falzone into “big kids” club. Mike is an accomplished artist who excels at performing ‘edited’ acoustic versions of his material for his younger fans. He regularly draws a decent sized group of 14-18 year olds at The Outer Space’s larger but alcohol-free sister, The Space. Last night the crowd was still more than impressive and they were quickly amped it up by the rougher, rock versions of the songs we have all come to love in Mike’s repertoire. No one can say that, in Falzone’s case, electric is better than acoustic. It’s just a different flavor. One that is richer in spots, spicer in others. This sound requires a knife and a fork where acoustic is more a hearty soup or stew that needs a large spoon and some tracks become hand-food…like a really good burrito or burger with the works. Mike was definitely more relaxed not having to worry about censoring himself both in his signature stage banter and in song lyrics. The chemistry with the band transmitted to the audience and many people moved right up to the stage within the first couple of songs. By the end of the set, the club was pretty packed and everyone was rockin’ it out. They were fully prepped for the headliners.
The Smyrk is a New Haven staple alt rock band. Formed in 2003, they worked with some of the best of their genre and were known in AbsolutePunk and MTV. The band has been pretty much out of the picture though since 2009. This reunion show was much anticipated by their fans who showed enough love with their reception of the opening number to bring founding member and vocalist Doron Flake to tears. Flake described the members relationship as sort of like Bobby and Whitney or Pam and Tommy, not always smooth but they just can’t stay away from each other. The band continued the musical and emotional momentum going throughout their set of old favorites and brand new songs. Most of the house crowded the stage to dance, sing along, pumping up the inertia with each song.
Doron’s vocals are sweet and smooth which, when put together with high energy guitar, a jazzy bass line and a perfect, elemental drumline, makes for something different and special. It is refreshing to hear a bassist who knows what to do with a 5-string. The band pays homage to a number of movies including Kill Bill and Evil Dead. For the latter, the crowd got into its zombie theme and the number closed with a guitar effect that recreated an old cinema organ. The Smyrk can use schtick without it being cliche. They are the real deal. No put-ons here. They showed how they earned playing over 300 shows and having a successful label-released album in their previous incarnation. One can only hope that this was just the opening salvo for a return of this band because their new material is as good as their old tracks.
By the end of the set, which included an encore demanded from their fans, everyone was on an emotional high. All were jumping and dancing along. Not only was the band reunited with each other but with their fans and old fans united with new ones. It was exactly how a night that perfect should have ended.
Props to The Outer Space. The barkeeps kept the libations flowing quickly and smoothly throughout the night along with the occasional food order despite the large crowd. The sound crew did a great job mixing for all three acts. It appeared everyone went home artistically, emotionally and physically satisfied.
For more information on all three bands and The Space Complex
The Outer Space
The Smyrk http://www.facebook.com/thesmyrk
Mike Falzone: www.mikefalzone.com
The Goonies: www.thegoonietunes.com