Aloha/Q and Not U/The Ghost - live in Iowa City (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Aloha / Q and Not U / The Ghost

live in Iowa City (2002)

live show

Ah, the Tuesday night show. These are always risks - do you really want to go to a show on a weeknight an hour away when only half the bands playing interest you? Will it really start on time? Will you be able to wake up the next morning in time for class? All these questions and more haunted myself and buddy Moldy as we sped down I-80 to Gabe's Oasis, located in the center of Iowa City.

Spirits were high for the show, but quickly diminished as we got inside - Gabe's is notorious for not actually starting the show until way after door time, and this was one of those nights. We arrived there at 8:30, but found ourselves trying to kill time until 9:15, when the first band finally went on. Who were they? You Drive This Thing, Kid, We'll Worry About The Gown.

Now, this is a great name for a band. They also have free stickers, so that was a plus. Too bad the band is absolutely horrible. If that sounds harsh, it's because I mean it to be. This band had no cohesion at all. The singer was a great screamer, and could do well in a hardcore band. A hardcore band this was not. The bassist and drummer had rudimentary skills at best, while thier guitarist seemed more suited in Hum - I thought he was talented, but completely out of place in this group.

So with one band down, we both had a bad taste in our mouths. What better way to relieve the taste then indulge in Gabe's special of 50 cent beers? I don't drink myself, but Moldy knocked quite a few back. He even stole some beer out of the pitcher onstage - how punk rock is that, kids?

Anyway, the Ghost quickly set up and rocked. No surprises there. This band just has that *thing* that clicks every time I see them. Emotional post-punk at it's best and brightest. My only complaint was that the setlist was identical to the Milwaukee show I saw them at a few weeks prior. Chalk that up to their new guitarist, I guess? Either way, they still had their shit down.

Q and Not U were supposed to play next, but for some reason Aloha went instead. This made me happy, since I don't like the Q's, so I could skip out earlier. Hooray! Too bad the majority of the crowd disappeared after the Ghost's performance, and what remained were pretty bored people. It's too bad, since they missed one of the most amazing bands in indie rock today.

Aloha took the stage with an improvised jam, and kept the loose feel going throughout their whole 45 minute set. There was not one pause in the music - in between each song, they would improv little segues into the next song, further blurring the lines between contemporary jazz and contemporary indie rock. I know they played "Last Night I Dreamt You Slept Beside Me," as well as a host of new tracks - "Fractures (Part One)," "They See Rocks," "Let Your Head Hang Low," and plenty more. The band never even bothered to talk until the end of their set, instead letting their sweet blend of jazz vibraphone and pulsating drum and bass rhythms do the speaking for them. This band could do no wrong. Unfortunately, the crowd was virtually dead during their performance, save for two overly excited girls directly in front of me, who danced like maniacs throughout the performance. It gave me hope that there are still people who go to shows to enjoy themselves now, instead of bitch.

So last up was Q and Not U. The first time I had seen them was over 2 years ago with the Faint and Camera Obscura. My opinion of them then? A more math-rocky No Knife, and it didn't sit too well with me. Moldy and I watched 3 or 4 songs, and I still felt the same way about the band. To their credit, they did sound tight [especially for not having a permanent bassist anymore], and the 40 or 50 kids who stuck around past midnight for their set were getting into it, but it just didn't do anything for me. The sound was clipping really badly for the band, as well, and bad sound can really make for a bad show. So we left, and I relished seeing my new favorite band live, about 3 inches from the guitarist.

To sum up:

  • Q and Not U - blah.
  • Aloha - amazing. Simply amazing.
  • The Ghost - I've seen them better, but they still sounded good.
  • You Drive This Thing, Kid... - Great name, bad music.