Live Review: The Strange Boys/White Fence @ Comet Ping Pong, 6/17/2011

If you said to me, "Megan, pick a pair of bands that you'd love love love love love to see together at Comet," odds are pretty good I'd pick The Strange Boys and White Fence. No kidding. After all, I'm a huge fan of The Strange Boys and their bratty throwback scuzz and of White Fence and Tim Presley's Syd Barrett holed up in the basement fuzzy psych. So seeing both together, well, I believe that's what gets called a win-win situation. And it's like someone read my mind, because the two of them ended up playing that very venue, a scant two days after my birthday (insert obligatory Happy Birthday to Me comment here, naturally).

White Fence was due up first, and as the two gentlemen set up their gear I kept thinking, "Wow, Tim looks really different these days." Turns out, Tim was among the few band members that missed their flight to DC, leaving this dynamic duo to churn out the set as best they could. Which, fear not, was really good as it so happens. With the golden grit of the guitar and the steady march of the drums, this adapted improvisation of White Fence did miles of justice to songs both old and new. It was like hearing the songs of a totally different band, the new vocals adding something entirely new even to songs I've listened to dozens of times before. What these gents did, though, was really pretty great. A small dance party erupted in front of the stage, as the guitar crackled along and the drums were bashed with much delight. He might be a bassist on every other night, but tonight he was indeed a drummer. From what I could make of the newer material, and perhaps it's just the way it was played, the new White Fence record, Is Growing Faith, is less Syd Barrett-esque musings and more in the vein of show mates The Strange Boys, lots of great dirty rock you can certainly shake to. The pair really hit their stride, making a noise both bulky yet simple, though decidedly aggressive. "We have shirts, but the records didn't make the flight," we were informed, which was a little bittersweetly amusing. It was a great set, no question, but something was missing. And not just the records.

I was equally as excited to see The Strange Boys, and with the exception of the previously-mentioned occasional member Tim Presley, it appeared that all Boys were present and accounted for. I was crossing my fingers for another sublime Strange Boys set, and the inclusion therein of "Night Might," my probable favorite TSB song. I instantly remembered why I love seeing this band live so much, they make such a pretty little racket together. And y'all, telepathy really can work, as "Night Might" was song number two in their set. Sounding a bit bass-heavy, this little barn-burner sounded even better than I had expected, all road-weary and wailing and bourbon-soaked scuzzy good fun. It wasn't long before a string got itself broken, and lord knows it's a good set when the strings bite the dust. "Between Us" was choked with smoke and booze, the guitars sounding particularly gold dust. "Be Brave" got a warm holler, all sass and circumstance and grit. The boys relayed a story about having played a great show in Nashville followed by a not-so-great show in Durham, and how that old adage about what a difference a day makes is so very true. All told, their set was just as good as I had expected.

I can't hide it, y'all I was pretty bummed not to get the true White Fence experience. But even with the missing members, the band was pretty dang fine. And The Strange Boys were once again on point. You know what's coming. Don't miss these bands.

mp3: Be Brave (The Strange Boys from Be Brave) (Via Foundwaves)


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