Live Review: Très Bien, Stolen Hearts, The Greatest Hits, The Biters, The Booze @ Star Bar, January 23
By Jhoni Jackson
Anyone enticed by the show flyer’s promise of a “big rock and roll show” certainly got what they came for. Like any good rock show, charismatic front-men (and women,
mind you) were abundant, the venue was packed and patrons lined every free space at the bar. The bands were punk-derived but heavily pop-inclined, as if
they’ve been listening to old-school punk all their lives (probably accurate for all musicians present) but long-since gave in to catchy, danceable
Très Bien opened the night enthusiastically – and that’s an understatement. Lead singer Michael “Mikey” Bostinto was loudly energetic from the get-go, even goofily raising the roof in excitement. He thanked The Booze graciously for letting them join the bill, and announced guitarist Randy Michael may make an appearance. After the upbeat, shout-interspersed “Use Your Brain,” Michael made good on Bostinto’s promise, hopping on stage with a cigarette and drink in hand to sing back-up on “Liquid Love.” The down-tempo ‘60s-tinged number guided by hand-claps was made hazier with wandering, fuzzy, psychedelic-like guitar. Bostinto later shouted at the crowd, “Who likes drugs in Atlanta?” When patrons were slow to respond, he reassured them they wouldn’t be prosecuted. In another gracious gesture, Très Bien dedicated the oh-so-familiar Motown hit “(Love is Like a) Heat Wave” (written by Holland-Dozier-Holland and made popular by Martha and the Vandellas) to The Booze. The meaning behind that dedication is unclear, but it’s the thought that counts, right? Très Bien is no stranger to Motown, as the band’s catalog is clearly influenced by the genre and related big band sounds.
As announced on the poster, Stolen Hearts’ performance was their last. It’s a shame to see a promising Atlanta band dismantle before achieving full-scale, much-deserved recognition. The band has been interviewed in Creative Loafing and mentioned in Paste, to name a few enamored publications, but a full-scale blow-up was imminent. Stolen Hearts used punk-rock beginnings as a base for mixing doo-wop and power-pop sentiments, with instantaneously catchy melodies as a result. That fun combination and lead singer Ashley Salisbury’s high-octave croon will be sorely missed if the members don’t find a way to regroup and stay present in Atlanta’s music scene.
Seattle’s The Greatest Hits opened with David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel.” Not really, but the baseline riff of “Ghost Town” was teetering on the line between copyright infringement and transformative use. Despite this passing peeve, the band’s power-pop, clearly evolved from punk-rock, was as catchy and fun as the rest of the lineup. Not to be overlooked, front-man Nils Forever’s half-black, half-bleached, messy ‘do made strides at standing out aesthetically.
The Biters opened with “Hang Around,” likely their catchiest track. Power-pop best defines this increasingly popular local band, but a dash of humor is necessary to
mention – Tuk’s commentary between songs is as entertaining as watching the band play. Check their MySpace for a silly video of Tuk beat-boxing on the streets of Atlanta with a random guy who’s visibly ecstatic about singing along.
By the time The Booze closed the night, the crowd appeared good and sauced. This performance marked The Booze’s return after a two-year hiatus that felt like forever for their devoted fans. The Booze truly offers the best throwback rock in Atlanta, and this performance would have convinced anyone who didn’t already believe that.
Their nonchalantly cool performance never outshone the quality of musicianship the band’s become known for. The show’s grand finale was a cover of “Gloria” (attributed to Van Morrison, but originally released under his band Them), where most of the night’s players flooded the stage to sing along in an incredible, fun display of chaotic camaraderie.
Category: Live Reviews