Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Following Concert Reviews Are Filled With Blanchey Goodness and Ditty Bops Cuteness

Blanche; The Ditty Bops; Missy Higgins
@Mercury Lounge
New York, NY – June 9, 2005

Last year’s winner for Best Artist, Best Album, and Best New Artist, Blanche returned to New York with new songs in tow, all of which sound great (“What This Town Needs”, “World’s Largest Crucifix”, “Child in the Moon”, and “At Least I Didn't Quit”). A lot more loose and relaxed than their performances last year, the Blanche band were still musically tight, but had much more warm stage presence. And just let it be known, that when Feeny begins his church-like invocation for “Someday”, it’s just about the sweetest thing you’re ever going to hear.
The Ditty Bops’ strongest appeal is that they are incredibly cute. Amanda and Abby ride the crowd with their sheer adorableness. Contrast that with the fact that these toothpick chicks had barely any clothes on. Their brand of Dixielandish Jazz is also incredibly cute but it doesn’t feel gimmicky. The slow indie pop ballads are structured too well, and they get dull, but when this little quartet swings, it gets hot fast. And the harmonies are beyond outstanding. The prop stuff was cute also.
Missy Higgins is an Australian balladeer who also suffers/benefits from being cute, but in a more contemporary and innocent sort of way. Her songs aren’t very original, but her 50% Beth Orton, 25% Alicia Keyes, 25% Vanessa Carlton thing actually works. Her voice, which sounds disturbingly exactly like Orton at times and other times like Carlton (but Ms. Higgins can actually hold notes and sound good, unlike Ms. Carlton)…is marvelous. This kid just needs to keep on playing.

Blanche; The Ditty Bops
Hoboken, NJ – June 11, 2005

Another solid night from Blanche. It amazes me how a band can be so tight, so solid, and not sound programmed. Every second of a Blanche performance is authentic, honest, and downright raw. Also, this night will be remembered as being very special to me, as I hung out with the band after the show….so yes, that makes a bias for this review but so what? It’s Blanche dammit. Also, when (not if) you go see Blanche, pick up a pack of Blanche trading cards. It’s good for what ails ya. The Ditty Bops did an incredibly smart thing. They completely changed their show. A brand new set list of different songs from the previous gig (including playing the excellent “Sister Kate”), and a different, opposite look – adorable slacks with suspenders and ties.

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