Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pong Super, Escobarb Superb

One time I was disappointed in a Pong live show - once!! Unfortunately, it had been the last one - something around a year ago. There was a new guy, but other than the cool new live light mix usurping the iconic magic globe of ray beams, he didn't do anything wrong. The show was dominated by "new" songs, so the lack of familiarity was part of it. But more than anything, a bunch of those new songs just didn't translate for me live. Too electro-dance and yet not bangin' enough all at once...

Saturday in Austin - the record release show for those very same songs, and with still another new band member. I gotta say, oddly I had confidence... or faith. And my opinion was kinda proven right and my faith kinda vindicated. But Pongwise, everything is pretty damn right with the world!

Escobarb Unleashed!
As the title might have revealed, things went well. The new member is probably Kerri Atwood (based on cd credits), and she adds one more voice to Pong's arsenal. I've always said not enough bands throw out enough singers together, separate, mixing it up. So, that worked for me. I'm pretty sure the live versions of the new material had been tuned up over the last year or so. Although I got a bootleg of that last show, I don't think they were all that more familiar to me. The tape's pretty muddy, so not on constant rotation. Anyway, I enjoyed the show a lot.

"Rocket Fuel" from Escobarb (2010)

Also, I picked up the new CD! The show was kind of centered around the album, being a release party thing. But it's pretty short, so probably about 1/2 live classics and 1/2 Escobarb songs (although I don't think the title track). I want to say that "Rocket Fuel" was the first of these songs I ever saw live. I remember liking it right away, asking about the title afterwards, and to this day consider it the best of the new crop. Still rockin' out, with that boogie-thrust energy.

"Laika" from Escobarb (2010)

At the end of "Rocket Fuel," there's some electronic messing-around. Although "Laika" [live] grooves on a metallic riff and the funky drummer, a pretty big portion of the album seems built for the studio more than the stage. It actually reminds me a lot of the 7th inning stretch on their debut, Killer Lifestyle (2001). Three of the songs towards the end stand out as less band-developed and more like demos. I like those songs fine, but they don't hold up to the full treatment elsewhere. And I don't think I've ever seen any of them performed live...

"Suicide Cat" from Escobarb (2010)

The thing is, those types of songs get equally fleshed-out on this record. "Suicide Cat" has been on Pong's Myspace page for quite awhile. It's leisurely, electro-beaty but not really bangin'. Live, I don't know how it will pan out. But as recorded, it throws a ton of '80s new wave maneuvers your way. Obviously the synth action and robot vox, but listen to the guitars! That's new business for Pong, and they pull it off suprisingly well.

"Superwrong" from Escobarb (2010)

I could be wrong about "Rocket Fuel" preceding "Superwrong" into the live repertoire, but I'm pretty sure they were first and second. And once again, it's a bit more old-school Pong rockin' than most of the others. So from the getgo, I think the first half is the more immediately appealing and live-playing oriented. But I suspect the second half has more to dig deep into... The rocking and electro balance is reversed, song lengths stretch out (mostly), and arrangements get more dense and twisty.

Pong Mk 1
I want to wait until I've figured it out a bit more, and until I've made some more videos. But part two coming up!

Certainly by the time Pong brings the new people by Super Happy Fun Land on Friday, April 2nd.

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