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New Wet Kojak, Do Make Say Think and Radio 4
Brownies, New York June 9, 2000
 


Radio 4 does the 3-man scronk.


We didn't get any usable pictures of Do Say Make Think, but did manage to get a picture of a cute borg-woman taking pictures of the band...


McCloud seduces his own arm.


The boys wash their hands of this filthy music as Mr. McCloud does the locomotion with his mic stand.

 

Brownies is a fun place to see live bands -- it's cosy, relaxed, diverse and has a good sound system. So after my less-than-fulfilling experience at the Scanner/µ-ziq/Pole event the night before, I was looking forward to this show. I had heard of Radio 4 and Do Make Say Think before, but didn't really know their music. And of course everyone knows that New Wet Kojak is two of the guys from Girls Against Boys, so that seemed reason enough to go see them.

Radio 4 started things off with a barrage of solid three-man punk-pop. They have sort of a Sonic Youth-Joy Division-Fugazi thing going on, if you know what I mean. They're noisy, but still song-oriented, with strong, melodic, almost dubby bass-lines and a rock-steady drummer. The crowd was definitely enjoying their set, and I even saw some rather scandalous butt-dancing down by the front of the stage. At one point the guitarist/singer said to the sound guy, "Take me up a little bit", and a woman in the audience yelled out, "I'll take it up, baby!" So...there was something in the air I guess. The boys in New Wet Kojak have a reputation for being quite the cuties, so maybe that had gotten everyone a bit riled up in anticipation...

Next up was Do Say Make Think, a Canadian band that does spacey, jazz-tinged instrumentals, like a less-glossy, more experimental version of Tristeza. (They're currently touring to promote the excellent Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord is Dead -- Ed) The stage at Brownies is not huge, but Do Say Make Think is, so there was a bit of a space crunch as they tried to fit all 7 (?) members on stage at once, along with their guitars, trumpet, saxes, tuba, drums, bass, percussion and assorted other instruments. Apparently their keyboard player was stopped at the border, which in one way was a good thing, as I can't imagine how they would have fit another player and keyboard on stage! The set was very pleasant -- lots of slow jams with nice horn arrangements, great percussion parts and tweaky guitar/electronic effects for ambience. After the first tune someone in the audience called out for "Summer of 69", which we all thought was pretty funny. There were points in the set where Do Say Make Think's sound got a little thin and awkward, but I would attribute that to the missing keyboard player, who I imagine does a lot to fill in the holes of their otherwise well-constructed arrangements.

Finally the pretty boys in New Wet Kojak took the stage, and it was clear that they were what the audience had been waiting for. Scott McCloud (of Girls Against Boys fame) quickly grabbed the attention of everyone in the room as he began his dual-mic, freaky kung-fu dancing vocal attack, which would continue into the evening. One mic was the "normal" one, the other the "cool" one, which meant that it gave his voice the narsty, distorted sound that the kids all dig. He had this funny way of slinking around the stage, which I assumed was supposed to be sexy, although to me it seemed more campy than sexy, but maybe that was the point. Their whole set was sort of campy, full of ultra-lux sax riffs, grinding love jams and saucy sound-bite lyrics like "I like to watch" repeated over and over and over again. Most of the songs were pretty simple, repetitive numbers, with occasional breaks for a sax or guitar solo. Some were fast, some were slow, all featured McCloud's libido-in-overdrive lounge-vocal stylings. Although I enjoyed the set, it ended up feeling a bit empty and over-stylized -- "We're sexy" can only really go so far as a song-writing strategy. I don't have their new CD yet (it's reviewed here by Andrew), so I haven't been able to give the tunes another chance. I wouldn't be surprised if there's more depth to these songs than I picked up on the first listen. Regardless, NWK has an attractive sound, and they put on a fun, listenable show.

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Article and photographs by Irving Bellemead


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