Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! / Gung Ho - live in Iowa City (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! / Gung Ho

live in Iowa City (2004)

live show

After falling madly in love with the self-titled debut from Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! [review], I wanted desperately to see the trio live. Luckily, I didn't have to wait long as they played in Iowa City the day after their record came out.

I entered the dingy confines of Gabe's Oasis right as the first act, Dimes For Serpico began his set. It was just one guy, an electric guitar, and a well-programmed drum machine [which unfortunately was too high up in the mix, but oh well]. His sound brought to mind the Cure, if they had gone grunge - and used a drum machine [which they did sometimes]. His voice was strong and engaging, and I thoroughly enjoyed his set. I planned on picking up his debut EP Paris, but he ended up leaving before I could wend my way back to the merch tables.

Up next were Quad City popsters Gung Ho. I had previously seen them in November when they opened up for Duvall and Decibully, and their sound had gotten tighter overall, which was good. my description of them last time - the new wave side of Reel Big Fish, with keyboards instead of horns - held true again, as the band walked the line between serious musicians and jokesters. There's something good going on with these guys, they just need to figure it out and work on it a bit more.

Finally, the band we were all there to see [all 20 or so of us, at least] - Volcano, I'm Still Excited!!. VISE!!'s set was a party from the get-go, including dancing, double bass drums, stories about kittens, many a crazy drum solo, and even poster board drawings of sharks, unicorns, and storm clouds, among other things.

The trio played a good majority of their debut LP, including personal favorites "Trunk Of My Car," "New Brad," and "In Green." Their enthusiasm was boundless, and you could really tell they had a love of performing. Seeing the band live also made the album make more sense. For example, on the album, "Firebombing London" just seems like a little interlude with keyboard and drum machine, but live, the song takes on a whole new meaning with the drummer holding up poster board drawings and telling a story through them. The final card, a gigantic "LOVE", made the drummer's eyes close, his smile widen, and me want to weep. It was so honest, so sincere, and so real - this band is like the indie rock Andrew WK.

VISE!! is worth whatever price of admission you may have to pay to see them. They are highly entertaining, talented, and all around good guys. The exclamation points are surely justified in this band's name, no question.

SETLIST [straight from paper]
2nd GUN