The Vacant Lots, Blowtorch And The Cave Bees Friday At Nectars August 21, 2009

Words by Tim Lewis.

It seemed like they had a lot of music packed in for one evening. They said they would start at 9 and Rough Francis was headlining the show. I had no expectation that it would work that way.

I arrived around 9:30 and ran into Nathan. We hung out for a bit as Rough Francis took their time in a sound check. They did a nice long drum check and after a bit played one as a full band. They sounded pretty good and rocking but like they weren’t putting all they had into it. That of course is fine, as it was just a sound check, but the way it worked out that was all I got to hear of them.

The Vacant Lots took the stage with a vengeance, and a huge side lit swirl of images illuminated the wall. I remembered them as having a very primeval sound, but that night at Nectars it was like they became an arena rock band. Their huge sound balanced the complexity of the effects with the simplicity of just being two players in the most fantastic way. They looked serious on stage and sounded it. They played hard and heavy and had the audience enthralled. The show did not last very long but every moment was glorious. I seriously need to keep track of these guys!

Nathan and I grabbed a table and chatted about work and stuff during the set break. After a bit Blowtorch took the stage. We could hear and see them through the wall from our seats. I thought of them as more country rock but the opening song was pretty hard and heavy. From there they maneuvered through a set that did at times get kind of country and at times was pretty punk. I kind of liked them but they didn’t have the sonic firepower that the Lots unleashed on us, so the timing of the set made it sound a bit slower than it really was. In general putting the two-piece group on in front of the full band seemed like the right idea, but as it worked out putting Blowtorch on first would have worked out better. While Blowtorch did not blow me away they did intrigue me and are on my list of bands to check out again to see what’s really going on.

Next up was another long set break. A buddy of Nathans had joined us and we chatted a bit while waiting for the Cave Bees. It took a while to get set but when they were they unloaded with the usual ferocious set. I was close enough to see their setlist had 11 songs on it. At around 3 minutes per song with a bit of a break in between it seemed like I was in for bliss for 40 minutes.

As always their songs just hooked me in. I was up close from the opening note and threw my body around the dance floor for each subsequent one. Their music is full of sonic fury and is built on cool melodies. They play so fast and wonderful that it is a thing of joy to behold.

Ok, maybe for me it’s a thing of joy to behold. Late in the set one of the guys from Rough Frances came out to talk with Steve. I had the impression that the Bees were asked to cut their set short, and I think they did cut a song. The irony is that the conversation took the same amount of time as one of the Bees songs so if there had been no disruption of the show it would have ended at the same time anyway.

Either way the Cave Bees left the stage soon after as conquering heroes. I was left with a beautiful exhausted glow. The weariness along with being put off by having a band I’ve never seen ask one of my favorites to quit early signaled it was time to go. I looked around for Nathan and his friend. I did not see them so I took a beeline to the door and sailed up the street. As I walked by City Hall the clock said it was just after 1am. I figured that with the set break if I had stayed I would have seen at most 40 minutes of Frances so I did not feel like I missed too much, even though they have been on my list of bands to see for a while. I guess the lesson to the story is if you are the headlining band and you want to play a full show when people are still there, it would well behoove you to get the show started on time.

This post was originally published by Tim Lewis at his personal blog,