Sunday, August 30, 2009

Show Review: The Mystery Lights

Thursday night I went down to Surf Nite! at Two Boots. It was a good time. The pizza was outstanding, and the Brooklyn Lager was cold and fresh. Onstage, there were two bands, The Villians, a surf rock band from New Haven, and The Mystery Lights, a garage band from California. It was a pretty killer night.

The Villains were having a really hard time. It seems like the vocals were flat and they were playing really sloppy. After hearing their tunes on MySpace I was expecting a lot more out of them, but they weren't up to par. Maybe it was just a bad night? I mean, I don't want to trash talk them or anything, they were trying pretty damn hard, it just seems like they weren't on top of things, the guitar work was sloppy and late at times, and they just didn't seem to gel. Lead singer/guitarist John Paul seemed to have a little trouble working the crowd, too. He had a smoking jacket and an ascot on for the show, possibly playing a Lex Luthor type role? It also seemed like he was doing his best to be an old time crooner while he sang. It was a little too cheesy for me, but it had a bit of an off-kilter charm to it. It's like he was trying too hard to get you to like him (or maybe that's part of the character he was playing? If so, then it was absolute genius!) While they did struggle, they had some legitimately good moments throughout the night. There was one point where they dropped the singing and decided to play instrumental. When they did, it was really high energy and great, and exactly what I expected to hear out of a surf band. Their drummer really had a chance to shine here, throwing in two killer solos in the middle of the tune. I just wish they played more like that throughout the night.

The Mystery Lights were intense. They were completely high-energy, fueled garage rock action. From a first look, these guys were young, way younger than they sounded. I was not expecting what was in store for me. As they warmed up and did a sound check, you could easily tell that the energy and suspense building up in the crowd was overwhelming.

Dressed like Dee Dee Ramone, lead singer Mike Brandon was full of raw energy. He was a blur onstage most of the time, legs thrashing, arms flailing, jumping and just going crazy with the microphone. He had a really great voice too - it was perfect for the bluesy 60s garage sound they were going for. The band played loud: a wall of guitar riffs with a pounding bass line and thunderous drums. Their sound was massive for just four people.

The songs themselves were absolute nonstop action. They seemed to move from really fast overgained guitar-driven rockouts to slow bluesy bass groves on a whim, and the dichotomy of these two never got old. How they managed to keep up all that energy for the entire show, I'll never know. After walking onstage, they assaulted us for what felt like a scant 20 minutes, then they were done. I wanted way more. I know they played for over an hour, but seriously, it was still way too short.

After the show wound down and the world settled back on its axis, I picked up a copy of their album Teenage Catgirls and The Mystery Lights Show. It's good, but it really doesn't capture what these guys are all about. It's slower and quieter than their stage show, but I guess that's not a surprise as their sound was monstrous onstage. All the same songs are there, but the execution just isn't the same. Anyway, you can listen to the album and snag a copy from Closet Trekkie if you're interested.

It looks like after the few East Coast shows they've done in the past few days, they're heading back to CA. If they ever make it back to CT, it's definitely worthwhile to check them out. It was a hell of a show, absolutely the most energetic and charged shows I've heard in a long time.

Surf Nite! takes place on Thursdays at Two Boots in Bridgeport, and comes at you courtesy of Bobby D.


Bobby D. said...

Thanks John!

It's great to read a post-Surf Nite! review ... The Mystery Lights were happy to play in front of an audience interested in their sound. I went up to SubRosa Party at Cousin Larry's in Danbury two days earlier, and only a handful of people caught the Lights in action ...

Thanks for all you do to support LIVE and LOCAL indie music ...

b d.

Bob D. said...

The Mystery Lights are coming back to Two Boots! ... Surf Nite! goes garage with two Cali bands, The Mystery Lights, and The Bare Wires, and indie rock from Bad Cop.

Thursday April 1
No cover.
All ages.
9 pm