and your head is spinning from a loud guitar

thursday at cake shop featured three angsty rock bands. i'm not a big fan of "rock" these days, but each of these have a slightly different take that sets them apart from the post-strokes wave of copycats.

i'd been curious to check out sonoma aero live since finding them on myspace. i did recognize one song i'd streamed off that site. other than that, for some reason, their songs were a little hard to wrap my head around, which is a good sign. they're a solid rock trio that thankfully doesn't adhere to standard rock chords, basslines, or drum beats. and yet, their approach was very direct and straightforward, hitting the kinds of marks indie rock fans like to hear. just when i felt their set was starting to suffer from a bit too much sameness, they changed up with a slower, more melodic song that showed a wider range.

it's a bit difficult to judge a band purely based on their live set. often the most obvious crowd response is to louder, uptempo songs, and a band sometimes tries to accomodate (such as interpol, who never seem to play any of their slower tracks live). i'm not sure if that's what happened here, but i think sonoma aero shows promise nonetheless.

other passengers, on the other hand, have dynamics to burn. whether within songs or from one to the next, they do the quiet/loud thing in a very original way. there are no obvious verses/choruses (although recognizable sections do repeat). i hesitate to damn them with the label "prog rock," because they are nowhere near as pretentious and navel-gazing as the worst of that genre. however, they are a progression in the line of dark-edged rock bands. on this night they were crammed into a space too small for the five of them, and even had berkoy sitting in their midst doing her projections onto a very makeshift screen made of sheets. regardless of the less-than-perfect conditions, they all made it work.

the small space and sound system also affected a place to bury strangers. there were no effects on the drums, and for some reason very little on the vocals as well. being crammed into the smaller space actually made them play faster and move around more. as a result, their show was more raucous and punk-sounding than the one i saw at knitting factory. it was still good, but i prefer the huge reverb/feedback-drenched wall of sound with dark melodies poking through. this was a warmup show for their opening slot sunday at bowery ballroom, which should be a great place to see them.

the title of this post comes from "the low spark of high heeled boys" by traffic.