Sunday, August 17, 2008

Indian Jewelry-8/16/08, Hemlock Tavern, SF

Me and pals Scott J. and Jason B. braved the night and fog of Polk St. on a Saturday, where parking garages double as toilet stalls and God knows what else, to catch Houston's Indian Jewelry.
Openers Jascha Ephraim played a kind of chamber Pop, which featured a string quartet of cello, two viola, and violin, along with male and female vocals. Their tunes sounded to me like deconstructed Tin Pan Alley/Sunshine State Pop, with impressionistic lyrics. At times Street Hassle came to mind, and those impressions were given weight by the inclusion of a John Cale tune. I enjoyed them, despite eventually not being able to hear the music over the chattering folks both in the music annex and in the bar area.
Indian Jewelry played second. I had been anticipating this show for a while, and thankfully they did not disappoint. Their sound is a thumping psychedelic pow-wow, powered by stand up drumming. This simple percussive approach props up the high register chatter of a very processed sampling keyboard and two very distorted guitars. Indian Jewelry seem to want to induce trance states, and their combination of noisy melody and simple drumming, enhanced by a flashing strobe light throughout their set, has that effect. A pretty amazing live band. Their CD's are great, too. I guess they're an update of groups like Crash Worship and Butthole Surfers.
Speaking of those two bands, the last group was a Butthole Surfers tribute band, led by at least one of the drummers for Crash Worship. The best thing I can say is that it brought back great memories to see the Manson looking Crash dude pounding the drums. It sure smelled like a Crash Worship show, ie, dry ice and body odor. Yikes.
All in all, a fun show. Indian Jewelry ruled. It's good to see that weird Psych is alive and well.

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