Ah, the Monday night show in the [relatively] middle-of-nowhere. Bands dread it due to consistently poor turnouts, concertgoers dread it due to having to wake up the next morning for work, venue employees dread it due to the general lack of energy [and persons] in the club that night.
Well, Vaux changed all that, and how.
But first, we must document the trip up until that point. Moldy and I, against our better judgement, ventured nearly 3 hours west of our current position into Des Moines, Iowa. For the record, Des Moines sucks shit. Everything is under construction, everything is a one-way, everything is closed. Confusing as fuck. We finally got to the venue, Vaudeville Mews, at around 9pm and proceeded to retch at one of the openers, Stuck With Arthur.
This band was beyond terrible. Their median age was somewhere around 16, I'd say. Their merch guy? THEIR MOM. No joke. They played 100% by the books pop-punk, shitty 60's cover song included [of course]. Right as they finished, they packed up and got out of there before any other band played, as did all their fans. The reason being? My guess was that it was close to 10pm, and they all had school the next day. Seriously.
So after that debacle, Rhode Island-by-way-of-Boston singer/songwriter Kristin Forbes set up to a largely apathetic [and dwindling] crowd. Her morose indie rock sounded a bit like a less hippie Ani Difranco, and didn't really do anything for me at all. She was losing her voice, so any time she sang in a higher octave it sounded really awkward and forced. I felt bad that she drove 6 hours to play this show in front of roughly 2 dozen people, but them's the breaks.
Chicago's Much The Same were up next, and the remainder of the crowd gathered around the tiny stage to catch the A-F Records band in action. It was melodic-hardcore by the numbers, but in a positive way. The band's sound reminded me of Fat Wreck punk in between Good Riddance and Rise Against - there were definite hardcore moments as well as definite pop-punk moments. Singer Gunner has a really strong voice and could definitely take this band to better places. They played such songs as "Quitters Never Win," "Wish," and a whole bunch more off their A-F Records debut. While they didn't blow me away [and nowadays, very few straightahead punk bands do], I would definitely go watch them again [and next time will hopefully be with a bigger crowd].
And now, the reason that Moldy and I [and maybe 5 other people] came to the show - Colorado sextet Vaux. This was the band's first headlining tour in some time, which allowed them to bust out their much-talked-about fog and light show. As cheesy as you may think it sounds, it rocked the room into oblivion for their entire set. One of Vaux's members is more or less dedicated to simply running those lights with the music, it's rather impressive.
Vaux's high-energy and high-intensity set was culled mainly from their phenomenonal full-length There Must Be Some Way To Stop Them [review]. Songs like "Shot In The Back," "Switched On," "Broke The Breaks" and the killer "Fame" really got what little crowd there was psyched up, and watching the band perform this well in front of so few people made you wonder just how good they are in front of hundreds.
The group did play one new song, tentatively entitled "Fire." It was more melodic than most Vaux material, but still had plenty of places for headbanging and air guitar riffing. The band also did what many would deem impossible - cover a Radiohead song and actually pull it off. The song in question? Hail To The Theif's "Myxomatosis." The band took the spooky rhythm and really made it their own, honestly making me forget that the song was a cover by the end of it. Well done.
Before the band wrapped things up, they slowed things down a bit with the smoldering "Four Cornered Lives." It really showcased their musicianship - anyone can play fast, but it takes skill to play slowly and still not lose any energy or intensity.
Vaux tied their set up with a phenomenonal rendition of album opener "Set It To Blow," and as they left the stage covered in fog, eeriely glowing lights, and the loudest applause 20 people can muster, I had to ask myself why a band this good is having their records being sold on half.com for only 75 cents. It's not right, if you ask me. Not right at all.
So was the show worth the 6 hour total drive, mostly through rain? Was it worth getting lost multiple times? Was it worth not getting home until 4am, only to have to go to work at 5am?
Yes. Yes yes yes yes and yes. Go see Vaux. I've used the words "energetic" and "intense" [or variations of the theme] a number of times in this review, and for good reason - there's no two better words to describe them.