Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele at The End, 10/26/09

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Due to an impromptu Monday road trip (Metropolis, Ill., holla!), The Spin made it back on Monday night just in time to see Dent May at The End. Not sure why we're specifying "just in time," because we were milling about bored out the gourd for at least another half hour before openers The Kingston Springs popped up on stage. The youngish-looking rote rock band was not good enough to enjoy, but not bad enough to offend. We spoke to at least one patron bailing out on the evening, citing fatigue and aggressive mediocrity. You see kids, there's a tiered system of stage performance types, ranging from the "Stand There and Do Nothing" to the "Smugly Ostentatious High-Camp Baroque." The trick is to nail it somewhere in the middle. No one likes boring.

To The Only Good thing About the '40s, some advice: shorten the name. We would probably tell our friends that your band is good if it involved saying fewer than 10 syllables. You were the next level up in stage presence, as you inspired us to stand up and toe tap and smile and bob along.

Craving a breath of smoky air, we stepped outside to be greeted by the new outdoor snack bar. Um, yes please. We munched on a hot ham and cheese sample, and can only imagine how many shivering smokers will be comforted by this genius idea in the cold winter months to come. Dee-effing-licious.

We moseyed back in, and Dent May and his band of sitcom character lookalikes at long last made us glad we'd waited out the boredom. Equipped with his standard ukulele and a catalogue of upbeat story songs, May managed to strike the perfect balance of kitschy self-awareness without coming off as smarmy.

Ukulele feedback attempts and bass-drum jumping were measured by quips about making sure to end the show at a decent hour, as his audience likely had to go home and finish writing their essays. Highlights like the ever-so-true "You Can't Force a Dance Party" and a cover of Prince's "When You Were Mine" pleased the too-small crowd of obviously loyal fans, and even inspired a boy-boy couple to perform a quick (unforced) tango on the dance floor.

May ended up fulfilling nearly all of The Spin's exhaustive criteria for what should be right about music: good melodies, pleasant vocal harmonies, catchy songs and endearing stage presence. And we don't even like the ukulele.

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