Show Review: The Anti Monday League @ the Casbah - Snowden(ATL), Malajube(MONTREAL), Fifty on Their Heels, The Fascination
Cat Dirt 03.05.07
Editors Note: If you haven't checked out Cat Dirt's Site you should here He's also working damn well on a Mayday show extravaganza at Starlight Bowl.
I think, for most people, the name of the Casbah is evocative of the Clash song, "Rock the Casbah". For me, the Casbah refers not to that famous late Clash hit single, but rather to an aspect of middle eastern architecture. Those of you familiar with the architectural design in the middle and near east know that the typical family compound (or Casbah, if you will) has high walls surrounding an enclosed, interior courtyard that is invisible to passers by on the street. Remind you of any San Diego venues?
It is the interior courtyard that is the defining characteristic of the Casbah- simultaneously the best and worst feature of that place. It's funny to think how closely the climates of San Diego and the Middle East are related. Much of the produce that was unique to the Middle East in the old world grows readily down here, and Middle Eastern design features that would be ludicrous in the rest of the United States are easily adaptable to the climate here.
When I think about the Casbah, I think about the hearings that Congress had during World War II on the subject of price controls for steel. An executive from United States steel famously testified that "What is good for the US Steel is good for the US ." That statement now stands for a kind of statist corporatism that good lefties despise, but at the time- it was a true statement of fact, and I feel the same thing could be said about the Casbah and San Diego : "What is good for the Casbah is good for San Diego ."
Even though there are plenty of things to criticize about the Casbah: indifferent crowd, high prices- did I mention indifferent crowd? Such criticism is pointless, the Casbah is the locus for independent rock music in San Diego , and so it shall ever be.
The expansion of the partnership between Tim Mays and Tim Pyles is probably the most important thing that happened in local music this year- The Anti-Monday League is the first product of that partnership, and last night was a stellar example of that partnership come to fruition.
The line up last night combined two touring bands (Malajube and Snowden) with two local bands (Fifty on Their Heels and The Fascination). In an effort to reduce the time commitment required to read this article- I will offer capsule summaries, followed by a more extended discussion of several of the bands
THE FASCINATION- Most! British! Singer! Ever! Three piece.
FIFTY ON THEIR HEELS- "2007 San Diego Music Awards BEST PUNK BAND?"
MALAJUBE- Indie rock band from Montreal ! Keyboards! Very, very loud!
SNOWDEN- Synthy/gothy Interpol-e sounding alt rock from the A.T.L.- the next big thing!
I didn't like Malajube- not because they aren't good- they have a shambolic, dancey, jammy rock ensemble sound that at different points reminded me of !!!, Modest Mouse and Broken Social Scene. They sing in French, didn't watch the opening bands, were super loud. Basically, I'm like "whatever" about Malajube.
Snowden, on the other hand, was pretty good. This was their first show in San Diego . They are a four piece- singing guitarist, second guitarist, female bassist(darling!) and drummer. The songs have a filled out, alt rock vibe that incorporates the same kind of influences that you hear on an Interpol record. To my ear- I also heard a Dischord Records influence (filtered through a poppy sensibility). Snowden is on Jade Tree, which is an awesome indie label straight outta Wilmington Delaware . Most of the stuff I've heard from Jade Tree was hard core (or post hard core), so I think it is cool to hear this cool but poppy band touring the west coast even though they aren't signed to Matador or Capitol Records.
Snowden provided a high energy, dynamic stage show- that bassist really brings a nice touch to the show. Overall I was thinking- "I wouldn't be surprised to hear Snowden on the radio"- specifically Black Eyes, track five from their new record "Anti Anti." I went ahead and bought the record- it's really good- I guess that's a subject for another time.
Fifty on Their Heels is on Cat Dirt Records- my record label. They sounded great last night. They are focused on writing new songs right now. Everyone needs to understand that Fifty has a ton of influences that you haven't heard in their song writing yet. I suspect they'll end up sounding like a cross between Roxy Music and Orange Juice. I can assure you that they are growing as a group - this growth has been enabled by their kind reception among regular people and music professionals in the San Diego area.
That's what you need to look for from local bands- are they writing? Recording? Releasing? If they aren't, you don't have to support them. Local bands need to grow, write, improve. If they are just going to show up and play the same shit year after year, who is going to give a fuck?
Turn out was decent last night, people were enthusiastic about Malajube and Snowden. It was a good night for the Casbah.