by The Spin
Side projects? Supergroups? New bands with familiar faces? Fine lines separate them all, and each definition has a lot to do with intent and level of commitment. With Jonas Stein and David Bermudez's party-time DJ troupe Sparkle City spinning records on FooBar's smaller side Friday night, the bar's roomier side hosted a smattering of what might have well been at least one of each, but The Spin hasn’t had enough coffee nor does it carry a fine enough blade to split those kinds of hairs.
We walked in to catch the latter half of Kings of the F**King Sea's set — in this case, the asterisks are apparently intentional. Despite their self-proclaimed nautical majesty, guitarist, singer, former Immortal Lee County Killer and current Ultra S/C Chet Weise and Ettes drummer Poni Silver don’t veer far into uncharted waters. Rather, the two charge full-speed into their best-known strengths — viscera-jostling volume and mayhem, namely — to forge a familiar and furious form of blues punk that occasionally drifts into guitar-pedal madness.
Next up was Music Band, who win the award for most subversively pedestrian band name of the year (could the name be a reference to this 30 Rock gem?). Sonically ... it’s The Sonics. It’s the under-25 Nuggets compilation tribute band you’ve come to know and enjoy that is currently touring under several hundred different names. But The Spin isn’t griping. We’d much rather hear lackadaisical three-chord psychedelic stomp than go back to watching the kids wear their girlfriend’s jeans and scream about their feelings.
Like the rest of the world, The Spin has come to know and love Jem Cohen as the bottom-end-and-vocal-reinforcement dude stage-left of Ettes frontwoman Coco Hames. But we’re always curious to see a sideman step out front to show off what he’s been holding back. Strapped with a twangy six-string Rickenbacker and backed by bassist Joey Plunket and fellow Ette Silver on drums, Cohen’s apparently been stashing a few jangle-pop cards up his sleeve. Coupling Byrds-y riffs with a subdued power-pop delivery held up well against Cohen’s faint but endearing voice.
For JP5, Cohen and Plunket swapped positions (this time with the former on guitar and vocals and the latter on bass and backgrounds), with Adrian Barrera and hardcore enthusiast Cy Barkley thrown in on guitar, and Rachel Horton subbing in on drums. The word “supergroup” crossed our mind briefly, before it occurred to us that JP5 is just short for The Joey Plunket Five — meaning this is undoubtedly mostly Plunket’s solo outing. A little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll, Plunket’s songwriting took center stage with a Southern-tinged series of sing-along power-pop gems that had us wondering why the hell this guy hadn’t started a band upon moving here a few years ago. Totally worth breathing in a night's worth of smoke-infused FooBar air for.