This is exactly the kind of show I was looking for. Beatnik’s is about 15 minutes from my place and they always seem to book bands that just sound great live. Big Eyed Rabbit was no exception and I was swaying to the beat for a good hour and a half. The guitarist played 4 different guitars, starting with a black and white flying V, to a cherry/brown Gibson Les Paul, a dirty sounding acoustic, and finally a 2-3? string cigar box guitar. The aesthetics alone of playing on such different guitars, really made it a full experience especially being a guitarist myself. Initially I thought the band might just be ripping on whats trendy again, blues driven rock with harmonized vocals like The Black Keys. But then as their set progressed, I realized the players on stage had a much wider range than just a condensed blues pop structure ending at the 3:30 mark on the radio.
The crowd was pretty receptive and grew organically throughout the night. I think the groups ability to start out with a pretty standard blues format where a guitar lick repeats 4-5 times, bass pokes in, and then drums slowly build into a constant rhythm; and then morph into a sustained and interesting jam, is what kept it interesting throughout. For me, hearing blues driven music live is the only way to experience it. Drummers have so much more freedom to accent hits live and let the kit really breathe on it’s on. Also hearing a 15-30 Watt, 1 speaker guitar amp mic’d is infinitely better than any recording being fed through speakers in a car/at home.
I suppose at 30, my tastes for live music have become more refined. I rarely see live shows (1-2 X a month) and listen to a few tracks by any given band before I decide to drive out in the cold and pay the cover. But this also makes for a better experience when I do go out, because I’ve done a little research. I have no interest to see a punk, hardcore, or speed metal show. I’ll let the 15-27 year old crowd lap it up and expend their youthful rage. When I see a show live, I want to see people in the crowd smiling, dancing, and just enjoying the night. Doom, gloom, and forced weirdness/absurdity is a major drag to me at this point of my life. I’ve also been listening to a lot more electronic, trance, and dance music in general as of late, so that could explain it. But I definitely love seeing a guitarist that has obviously been at it for some time. It even feels like I’m being transmitted some musical information, that hopefully I can use in my own playing down the line.
So if you live in Worcester or the surrounding area, definitely check out Beatnik’s on a Friday or Saturday night. The club has a kind of hole in the wall feel, but that kind of makes it feel like you’re in on some underground secret.