Pitch Music Showcase 2011: At McCoy's

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What McCoy’s Public House lacks in acoustics and tricked-out sound boards, it makes up for in decent vibes, friendly service and microbrews. A tricky venue to book, McCoy’s tends to attract some of the more accessible acts — country, singer-songwriters, indie-pop, the mellow stuff. Last night was no different.

Lawrence’s Deadman Flats started up the night with a brand of music they describe as “mudstomp,” which is also the name of their record label. Eschewing made-up, mash-up genre labels, I prefer to just call it “some real Kansas shit.” Deadman Flats’ sound comes come a banjo, acoustic guitar, upright bass and mandolin. It’s fast, it’s furious, and it’s definitely more old Chevy pickup than Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Many of the songs are about drinking and doing drugs like meth and mushrooms. There might have also been one about huffing tractor gas, but I couldn’t tell for sure. The best line of the set came from guitarist Alex Law, who said, “This is the least amount of girls with beers that we’ve seen in awhile.”

Taking the energy level from ten to two was Sara Swenson & the Pearl Snaps, a fresh-faced young band that makes sweet, sweet lullaby music. Ian Davidson, who plays lap steel, turns songs into ebbing, tiding, lasting affairs. A good way to sum up Swenson and the Snaps’ sound is to point out that one of their songs was on the series Private Practice, ABC’s totally twisted account of the health care system in Santa Monica where most of the doctors deal with fertility issues when they aren’t fucking each other. It’s actually kind of a good show. The music helps. It’s what Stephen Hill would call “slow music for fast times.”

Swenson, the 2009 winner in the PMA Singer-Songwriter category, writes her own songs, and while performing one of them, “Windows and Doors,” she claimed to get goosebumps. It’s soothing music and it kind of made me a little tired. But don’t get me wrong — I did like Sara Swenson and her cute band. I guess I needed something more energizing at that point.

The Latenight Callers have garnered a lot of attention in the past few months. I have to admit that I’m just not into bands with a gimmick, and costumes and vaudeville-type performances make me cringe. And lead vocalist Julie Berndsen sings some of her songs through a megaphone. I didn’t get it. But those are my problems. The band did a fine job last night. People really got into it. The Latenight Callers tried really hard and found success. Hats off to them.







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