June 2 2014
Friday night I took the time to venture out to Riverwest and see the Thriftones return to their regular digs at Bremen Cafe (901 E Clarke St). Until about a year ago the boys had a regular gig here the 1st Friday of every month for about a year and a half. I can’t think of a more appropriate place to hear this band for the first time either. Defining music by genre and all the other sonic trappings that we get caught up in is fine for making a music library but I like recalling the people and places (or radio station) where I first heard a band or a song play. The venue is pretty small compared to many others in the city but the closeness this imposes just adds to the unscripted / anything-goes nature of a show here. For example, during the show opener, local artist D’Amato jumped up on stage and freestyled with the opening band Cherry Ball.
Cherry Ball did a great job warming up the crowd. Their set consisted of songs off their self-titled rock-blues album along with a great rendition of “Changes” from the the Hendrix album Band of Gypsys. I definitely felt like lead guitarist and vocalist Robert Weiss was channeling Bradley Nowell (Sublime) throughout the whole show. Check out their website here for future shows.
Thriftones put on a very tight sounding show, which is quite a feat considering their sound is so eclectic. I’m not even going to try and put them in a genre. I was reminded of the Pulp Fiction soundtrack with their 60s beach party guitar riffs, and I was reminded of the O’ Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack with the folksy Americana lyrics of lead singer Matthew Davis. They also performed a very cool version of “Willie the Weeper” (their only cover of the night). Davis sang the song “Anywhere USA” while he sat on his suitcase and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate image to describe the bands sound: it travels well. And if you find yourself traveling out to Summerfest this year take the time to check out the Thriftones as they make their festive debut on July 3rd @ 4:00pm at the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage. Check out their website here.