Hot Rod Circuit / Crime in Stereo

Hot Rod Circuit / Crime in Stereo: live in New Yorklive in New York (2007)
Immortal Records

Reviewer Rating: 4

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Maybe Hot Rod Circuit didn't bring any proper touring partners on their farewell tour because they've spent their career watching their friends' bands either blow up or break up. Really, I guess it makes sense that there were few to no options left. Instead, their New York City stop was left to be s.

Maybe Hot Rod Circuit didn't bring any proper touring partners on their farewell tour because they've spent their career watching their friends' bands either blow up or break up. Really, I guess it makes sense that there were few to no options left. Instead, their New York City stop was left to be supported by two somewhat oddball openers...you know, considering.

Gay Blades was first, and their frontman, Clark Westfield immediately announced they were playing a 45-minute set (it ended up being about 47). A few groans seemed to emit from the crowd, who had only a singer/guitarist and drummer on stage to entertain them. Westfield's mere personality drove the live show, however, and seemed to get the audience interested. This wouldn't have been a point of contention if their songs were actually good; instead, Gay Blades put forth boring indie pop/rock, another pity made by the fact that Westfield's voice was quite good, dabbling in both yelling and screaming fits, hushed, soothing whispers and nasal caws, the last ¡ la John K. Samson. The alt-country strum opening their second offering was promising, but again, the song itself was merely tepid. Crowd participation was strongly and aggressively encouraged, however, by Westfield, who demanded clapping in rhythm to many of the band's songs and even sauntered out into the audience at one point and began embracing and grabbing people, screaming the lyrical end by his lonesome. One unintentionally funny moment came during this scene when Westfield found a person, likely attending the show primarily for Crime in Stereo, wearing Guns Up! memorabilia. Westfield found this "phrase" particularly amusing, assumingly having never heard of the now-defunct No Warning worshippers from Merrimack Valley, and began urging everyone to shout the band's namesake, which they did so. Highlights from Westfield also included a snot rocket and completely stopping one song to directly address a very audible, singing-along female ("You are not good at this. I am good at this.").

Crime in Stereo was due next and ready to go in a tidy 15 minutes. The band had a few sporadic fans in attendance, but little energy was returned until the opening chords and lines of "Sudan" were delivered. Only modest approval was given for the band's opening salvo, which was the beginning trio of tracks off their recent release, Is Dead. The band themselves sounded pretty good, though vocalist Kristian Hallbert was visibly straining to hit his falsetto notes in songs like "XXXX (The First 1000 Years of Solitude)" and "Animal Pharm." You can't blame him, though -- it's hard to imagine anyone trying to transition from raspy screaming to easy-going high pitches on a moment's notice. You've all heard yourself after losing your voice at a show, after all. But when the band was able to capture the disc's curious atmospheres and on-a-dime changes, it was impressive, and frustrating that they barely even lured their own fans into things with their more adventurous material (the two-minute masterpiece "Almost Ghostless / Above the Gathering Oceans"; the incredibly well-constructed "Small Skeletal"). Granted, there was little hesitation for the smart uptempo songs from 2006's The Troubled Stateside; the band even capped off the set with what's still their longest song to date, the desperate, haunting "I, Stateside." Overall though, they played quite well and hopefully piqued interest from stodgy Hot Rod Circuit fans.

Set list (8:07-8:46):

  1. XXXX (The First 1000 Years of Solitude)
  2. Third Atlantic
  3. ...But You Are Vast
  4. -----
  5. Sudan
  6. Gravity/Grace
  7. -----
  8. Almost Ghostless / Above the Gathering Oceans
  9. Nixon
  10. -----
  11. Animal Pharm
  12. Bicycles for Afghanistan
  13. -----
  14. Small Skeletal
  15. -----
  16. I, Stateside
Hot Rod Circuit then ambled up on stage in about a half-hour's time to give New York City fans one final set. Now, I've never LOVED Hot Rod Circuit, but I've enjoyed their tunes for years, and their set list here was no exception, as it was a pretty well-flowing and catalog-spanning one. The band spent the main set list playing pieces from their albums in chronological order, which was pretty neat and orderly; it was also funny how much more of that later-era twang snaked in for the second half of the set.

They nailed every note, too; Andy Jackson's voice was identical to his studio efforts and each band member laid down their respective riffs meticulously and carefully. I did miss Casey Prestwood's usual stage antics; instead of doing his leg splits and wild theatrics, he sat quietly at his keyboard or modestly stood and played his guitar.

Half the set the crowd stood rather politely and sung along -- in fact, several males up front looked lost and clueless, but the bro-mosh took up much of the floor for more familiar material like "The Pharmacist" and "Flight 89 (North American)." The fans, at least at some points, looked excited to give their heroes a warm goodbye.

The band returned after an hour or so for another six songs, a fairly generous encore in all.

As much as I would've loved to hear "Inhabit," "Knees" and "Save You," Hot Rod Circuit played a nice and long set list that packed in the (bong?) hits and more obscure numbers -- including "Try & Understand," taken from the Japan release of Reality's Coming Through; no one seemed to know it, of course. Great show, and so long, Hot Rod -- here's to a glut of miserable, watered down trash likely trying to take your place in the coming years to total failure.

Set list (9:14-10:44):
  1. Very Best friend
  2. Remover
  3. Weak Warm
  4. -----
  5. Slacker
  6. -----
  7. Radio Song
  8. -----
  9. The Power of the Vitamins
  10. -----
  11. Flight 89 (North American)
  12. You Kill Me
  13. -----
  14. The Pharmacist
  15. -----
  16. At Nature's Mercy
  17. Let's Go Home
  18. -----
  19. The Best You Ever Knew
  20. -----
  21. Try & Understand
  22. -----
  23. 45's
  24. -----
  25. Ventricle
  26. -----
  27. Stateside
  28. -----
  29. U.S. Royalty
  30. Encore:
  31. Vampire
  32. -----
  33. Safely
  34. -----
  35. What We Believe In
  36. -----
  37. High Tech Lip Gloss
  38. -----
  39. Irish Car Bomb
  40. Low


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
KurtTGS (December 13, 2007)

Score is for starting off with Very Best Friend.

maverick (December 13, 2007)

Fuck, that is a killer set from HRC. I wish this tour would've left the East Coast. When I saw them earlier this year with Limbeck and the Forecast, they basically played the new record (which is good, but still -- I need the old jams, too!).

Don't know why they didn't play "Inhabit," though -- best song from Reality's Coming Through, hands down.


johnnydanger (December 12, 2007)

Two bands who were awesome and should have quit two records ago.

onegirlarmy (December 11, 2007)

Bah, I'm bummed I missed this... seems like HRC played a bunch of my favorite songs by them. Especially considering I've had Flight 89 stuck in my head since mid-last week. I'm sad I missed this, granted I have a good reason for not going, but still.

ramo (December 11, 2007)

I didn't make it in time to see Gay Blades but from the last two songs I heard were decent. I'm probably being too nice since a transformer blew up outside the venue while the band was playing. And yes, I wished it was a Transformer but unfortunately not.

Crime In Stereo were pretty damn great but you could've tell they were out of place with the crowd. Just a few gather up front and started rocking out. Their new songs were great live and I thought it was a pretty solid transition. Kristian had a hard time with his vocals melodically but still he pulled it off quite well. Not as great as the set I saw them perform with Only Crime at the Knit but hopefully I'll see CIS soon with some less obscure tourmates.

Hot Rod Circuit was pretty much hit and miss. Some songs were good and some were just putting me to sleep. I'll admit that Andy Jackson has a great voice and it is not courtesy to "studio magic".

Overall an okay night.


GlassPipeMurder (December 11, 2007)

Gay Blades sounds hilarious.

baseball (December 11, 2007)

i'm pretty interested to see Crime In Stereo live again

from the other time i saw them, i have a hard time picturing them pulling off some of the stuff on the new album....has their vocalist really gotten that much better at singing? he sounds so much smoother on the new album than the others

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