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Little Joy @ Troubadour, 12/7
Riding high on a tidal wave of media hype, Little Joy (otherwise known as Fabrizio Moretti's new band or Fab's Band) played for a sold out crowd on Sunday night. Being hailed by critics as the next great rock band and blogged to death as the best thing since sliced bread by Strokes fans, who are biding their time while the band is on hiatus, Little Joy had a lot to live up to. Their self titled debut has even appeared on some pretty fancy Best Album of the Year lists. And did they live up to the hype? No, not even close.
To be fair, not many could. It's like when Ringo Starr started his own band. Is It Don't Come Easy a good song? Yeah, but it's not the Beatles. To a lesser extent that's what Fabrizio Moretti's new band is. Are they good? Sure, but they aren't the Strokes. Not that the crowd seemed to care all that much. There were kids pressed up against the stage at the Troubadour two hours before Little Joy even went on. But none of them were there to see Little Joy, they wanted to see Fab's Band. This was made abundantly clear by the numerous numbers of Strokes t-shirts and the roar from the crowd when Moretti took the stage to tune his guitar. Screams of "Marry me, Fab!" and "I love you!" shook the room. But I'm getting ahead of myself, forgive me. I am not paying due to the two bands that went before. And they deserve their time.
After Red Cortez (formerly known as The Weather Underground) played their first couple songs, I was convinced that they belonged to the breed of band that I hate the most. I thought, "Oh God, it's another bunch of pretty boys pretending to be rock stars." To be fair, these young lads took the stage wearing leather jackets, cardigans, and scarves. Scarves, I ask you! You know what scarves at a rock show say to me? It says, "Hey, I know it's going to get unbelievably hot in here, but I'm going to wear an incredibly impractical woolen scarf on stage because I care more about how I look then rocking out."
Red Cortez had a very slow beginning playing a number of uninspiring rock numbers that seemed to be very heavily modeled after Bruce Springsteen's gritty rock (not that there is anything wrong with that.) But they all seemed to be copies of songs I had heard already with no real depth or emotion. Then as I was about to write them off completely, the lead singer, Harley Prechtel-Cortez, who has mastered the Little Richard scream/headshake, introduced a song, All Ye People, which he had written for his step-father who had passed away and as if by magic...the boys got soul. Check out their myspace if you don't believe me! Red Cortez stripped off their cumbersome outwear and proceeded to bring the house down with their arena style power pop. All of my previously hostile reservations melted away, and I will be very interested to see what they do next.
Dead Trees followed Red Cortez and as anyone who went to the show will tell you...were heartily mediocre. They produced the kind of plodding rock that I would imagine brontosauruses would have listened to had they access to iPods and recording equipment. It was that kind of uninspiring tempo that thudded along heavily and consistently without any surprises. Although I would like to give honorable mention to Matthew Simon, their lead guitarist, who lit up my world every time he soloed.
But fear not Dead Trees! All is not lost. This is what you need to do. You are all good musicians with limited song-writing ability, and I know a band who needs the power of your raw musical talent...Little Joy! Yes, it turns out that three people in Little Joy really isn't enough. Fabrizio, Binki Shapiro, and Rodrigo Amarante write lovely if not entirely original rock pop, but they don't have the force to deliver it. Really, Little Joy? You thought that three people packed enough wallop for a rock show? No offense, but for your tunes three people just sound undercooked. You need to join forces with Dead Trees and become Little Dead Trees of Joy!
I secretly think that they are considering this merger. My evidence is as follows. Point one, the bassist and lead guitarist from Dead Trees played most of Little Joy's set. Point Two, over the course of the night slowly but surely all of the Dead Trees were brought on stage. Finally at one point Fabrizio announced, "We slowly, but surely have stolen them (the Dead Trees) from themselves." Do it, Fabrizio! Your band would be so much better for it. Without the extra manpower your ballads sound washed out and limp. But with the addition of the Dead Trees you get four new voices, slide guitar, maracas, glockenspiel, and an electric acoustic guitar. It's something to consider at least. You're like the syrup to Dead Trees' waffles. Not very tasty apart, but together, holy smokes! Why settle for a mediocre band when you could have a good, possibly great one? Little Joy will never escape the shadow of Moretti's celebrity, but Little Dead Trees of Joy just might.
Photos were taken by the lovely and talented Sandra Vahtel.