Lake City, Great Lake Swimmers, Centro-matic, Tasty World, Athens, GA- 3/28
Tuesdays are tough. The temptation for revelry on a school night lacks the appeal of a pillow and an unplugged alarm clock these days. Yeah, they’re still school nights despite the fact my formal scholastic pursuits are long behind me. Spending (more) money I don’t have on pieces of paper that validate me in the eyes of some Human Resources or Personnel manager is not in the foreseeable futurebut before I remove the “If it’s too loud, you’re too old” bumper sticker from the station wagon there are still lessons in rock this scribe is willing to learn.
So, at 15 minutes til 11pm on a Tuesday night local blue-collar rockers Lake City tore into a “Thunder Road”-tinged set as the late arriving Athens, Georgia patrons shuffled in. Frontman Matt “Pistol” Stossel, sported a new scarf, and the trademark resigned intensity that makes Lake City a band worth watching on the Americana landscape. They closed with their quintessential road anthem, “The Beach,” but not before Stossel joked that the band we were really there to see, Denton, Texas’ Centro-matic, would be up soon.
It was officially Wednesday morning when Ontario’s Great Lake Swimmers took the stage at Tasty World. The sparse three-piece, guided by guitarist-vocalist Tony Dekker, was a distinct departure from the rock foundation laid by Lake City. A welcomed respite in my opinion as I had been waiting for the band to cross the Mason-Dixon for some time. Dekker transmits his voice with the ethereal reverb one would expect from cherubs singing lullabies between licks of their morphine lollipops. “Various Stages,” a song delving into the complexities of an intimate relationship with a bi-polar lover commanded the attention of the otherwise chatty crowd. Too soon, they exited.
Centro-matic recently released Fort Recovery and the critical buzz has been extremely positive thus far. Some say this may be the album that propels Will Johnson’s flagship band into the hearts of the massesor at least into the record collections of those that appreciate Flaming Lips, Neil Young, and other such like-minded fuzz rockers. They opened with “Love You Just the Same” and instantly erased any regret one might have for staying out so late and potentially sabotaging the next day’s To-Do List.
Multi-instrumentalist Scott Danbom (who sat in briefly with labelmates Great Lake Swimmers earlier in the evening) so perfectly harmonizes with Johnson’s hoarse and breathy vocals that it’s hard to imagine “Flashes and Cables”
without his candy “bop-botta-da-dows” complimenting the strain. Despite feeling under the weather Johnson blasted, and uniquely enunciated his way through a stellar “Mighty Midshipman” before Lake City’s Stossel joined the band on guitar for “Covered Up in Mines.” The Athens music community has embraced Centro-matic as honorary localsas the clock struck 2am a quick census of the room revealed the likes of Vic Chesnutt, John Neff (Drive-By Truckers, Barbara Cue), Matt Dawson (Of Montreal) and so many other gifted songwriters and musicians (whether they play in bands you immediately recognize, or not). Perhaps this is the ultimate complimentand the only validation Centro-matic needs. Your contemporaries love you. And so does this fledgling journalist.