By Charles Innis
A blast of blustery punk and sprawling psychedelia stormed Thee Parkside on Friday Oct. 3, evoking the sounds of 1960s and 1980s era rock.
Four bands, three of which included some City College students and alumni, played the small bar/venue for an overall engaging and diverse showcase of music.
Four-piece punk band Dinosaurs began the night. After a brief intro, the band dived head first into a solid mix of boisterous rock songs, all of which were blown into a nearly deafening volume of distortion.
The guitarist held the torch throughout the entire set. His dynamic guitar work, occasionally heightened with effects, often changed pace and jumped around in unpredictable directions.
Songs rarely stayed put after establishing a chord progression or pattern and refrained from following any obvious formulas. The bass guitar and drumming held the erratic pace together, although the bass was often drowned out in the contained chaos.
Third song and highlight “I Can’t Take It” followed this hectic style to stunning results. It began with crashing chords and a grooving pace while the lead singer hollered soulfully in the mix. Midway through, after a building swell of drumming and shredding guitars, the song broke into a slow and enchanting squall until it reached its end.
Other songs embraced a similar liveliness with bold guitar work and high energy.
The set ended with two new songs, although the closing number was disrupted when the lead guitarist broke a string midway through.
Their sound is reminiscent of 1980s punk such as The Gories, newer garage-rock bands like Ty Segall, or any band with rough edges on the Burger Records label.
Like any punks would, Dinosaurs also came with a sense of humor. A 3-foot tall Godzilla-like dinosaur figure stood at the edge of the stage wearing a sign that read “#dinosaurssf.”
“He’s our fifth member of the band,” the lead singer said between songs. “He’s our new social-media person.”
THE GREEN DOOR
After a brief intermission came The Green Door, another four-piece band. They rekindled the 1960s psychedelic haze with a tame and subdued set of sprawling rock songs.
Their first few songs maintained a traveling pace without any distinct changes.
The sluggish feel of their music dragged a little and occasionally felt stagnant, like a billow of smoke lingering in the air without any will to move.
While impressive at a technical standpoint, the guitar work felt overall directionless and vague.
Despite the static beginning, the singer had fantastic charisma and crooned delicately along.
The pace picked up midway through the set and things began to get more interesting.
Guitarists played with more intensity and the percussion established a strong groove.
The intensity rose to a joyous frenzy during their final romp “Tall Grass is Tangled.” They reached a climax and rushed to a vigorous and raucous end – the most exhilarating moment of the night.
The Green Door brought the largest crowd to their set – the space was almost completely filled out and many danced along to the psychedelic tunes, especially in the second half once they brought the energy up.
Sweet Plot played a casual blend of funk and bluesy rock with a vague reggae feel.
The singer’s voice resembled Mick Jagger so strikingly, he could easily front a Rolling Stones cover band.
With six musicians crowding the stage, including a saxophonist and keyboardist, their set-up seemed more grandiose than necessary.
Adding more ingredients and embellishments to the pot could generate something full-bodied and captivating, however Sweet Plot were generally one-dimensional.
Their music traveled predictably with nothing special being done with their bigger sound.
Glossy synth keys embellished the simple funk jams to an insignificant degree. The saxophone added a pleasant nuance but rarely pushed out of the background.
They created a very agreeable vibe, had a fun demeanor, played with bouncy energy and made generally danceable tunes; yet, it was overall unchallenging and neutral.
This was even reflected in the audience: half the crowd was dancing while the other half was chatting with their neighbors.
There is no doubt that Sweet Plot’s show would do a bang-up job as a backdrop to a party or a barbeque. Their simple funk- and reggae-infused sound was easy to sit in.
Compared to the more intense shows preceding them, they capped the night with an easygoing finish.