Good news. Nihilistic rage is officially back in fashion - and not a moment too soon. Honestly, all that clean living, emo-core crap was really starting to work my last nerve. Such music (and its performance) offers no genuine catharsis, just a paltry, shoe-gazing wash of self-indulgent sentimentality that makes people forget how entertaining it once was to watch self-destruction in action. (Think Thrall singer Mike Hard streaking through Taco Land chanting "I'm not afraid" like some sort of hapless, post-breakdown rosary.)
For those willing to stroll down a potentially shady memory lane, New York's Bamboo Kids are in town to provide a vivid working example of the inherent beauty of hard living in action.
Most hometown reviews of their recent single, Suck the Life Out of Me on Pro-Vel Records, make it extraordinarily difficult to get a good handle on the Bamboo Kids' sound. Critics are deliberately vague - their descriptions so glaringly noncommittal - that the reviews come off as generic as police sketches, while at the same time labeling the band as a harbingers of rock's second coming.
| THE BAMBOO KIDS |
WITH THE SONS OF HERCULES,
AND THE WHITE HEAT
Saturday, November 8
103 W. Grayson
"The Bamboo Kids play both kinds of music: rock AND roll," "I thought rock was dead but then I heard the Bamboo Kids, blah, blah, blah." In reality, every band with a seven-inch is not the last great hope for rock 'n' roll; every other demo is not an anthem for the next blank generation. Let's face it, bands like the Bamboo Kids aren't out to save anything - except, perhaps, the last beer in the fridge.
They're simply doing what comes naturally to any self-respecting, marginally talented, post-adolescent street punk that loathes frilly arrangements and sexed-up studio hoodoo. So why the unabashed gushing? East Coast critics understand that to push bands like the Bamboo Kids into the limelight, they need to create a critical mass - a lesson we in the proverbial boondocks could take to heart.
Musical evolution follows a stimulus-response growth cycle analogous to any social organism, though it's only visible through the clarity of hindsight. Like the '60s, which gave birth to an aggregated enfant terrible in the '70s (most clearly embodied by performers like Iggy Pop), the '90s produced a generation of angry young men creatively defined by an almost reactionary, anti-technology aesthetic. The Bamboo Kids are a youthful trio made up of three kids from Jersey: Dwight Weeks (guitar, vocals), Vince Cecio (bass, vocals), and Chris Orlando (drums, vocals), and are currently based in NYC, a long-time incubator for edgy rock purists. The boys were recently named "best unsigned band" by the New York Press - not an easy accomplishment in a town where you literally can't bowl a crack rock without clocking an aspiring musician or two.
The Bamboo Kids cull traces of both primordial blues and '60s garage rock, pep up that rowdy melange with cock-sure '70s glam, and successfully deliver a requisite soundtrack for a post-millennial recession/ repression/war-time combo, all at a post-punk pace. In doing so, the Bamboo Kids recycle every vapid rock 'n' roll cliché in the book - but they do it really well. Their straight-up, deliciously aggressive approach to a pan-generational medley of good old rock 'n' roll is consistently delivered with a healthy dose of both posture and skill.
The trio has yet to release a full-length recording on a stateside label, but their European debut album on Norway-based Big Dipper Records hits the streets this winter. Recorded for less than $1000, the release promises to please the snootiest of garage-rock connoisseurs and clueless, angst-ridden neophytes alike. Most of us fall somewhere between those extremes, but that certainly won't cheapen the experience of seeing the band live. •