January 18, 2010 | 12:30pm
Shuffling through the Prospector's narrow entrance to catch the flurry of jittery post-punk generated by The Soft Hands
(pictured), it's easy to forget that by day, this restaurant/weekend haunt is appreciated for their tender steaks rather than their rotating stable of rock bands. Of course, most people who showed up to "Zack's B-Day Show" on Saturday were only interested in savoring a satisfying lineup of Long Beach favorites.
Sharing the stage with the Victorians
and Eugene and the 1914
, the Soft Hands mesmerized beer-swilling local fans with tremulously intense tunes like "Numbers"and "Know Your Own." Crackling with spitfire enthusiasm fueled by Casey Stuht's insane, whirlwind drumming, vocalist/guitarist Matt Fry and bassist/vocalist Elizabeth Lindsey charged ahead with the speed of 7 Seconds and the melodic sensibilities of Husker Du, garnering some heavy praise at the end of a very eclectic night.
Around 10:30 p.m., the mixture of booze and body heat reached its peak as the Victorians rumbled through their big beat cocktail of showy, barroom rock and boot-stomping blues. At times, their sound suffered from over dependency on the traditional rock & roll blueprint of "verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus," causing some of the songs to become a blur of catchy chords and Guitar Hero antics. Despite the formulaic approach (and some over-the-top posing by nimble guitarist Matt Lindsay) the Victorians demonstrated indisputable musicianship. Pummeling rhythms and sparkling, pop arrangements transported tunes like "Save Me" and "You I'd Win" out of the dive bar and into the proverbial arena.
For show openers Eugene and the 1914, this Prospector gig was an ideal opportunity to sell a few copies of the Troubles EP, their long-awaited mini collection of delicate folk pop. Highlighted with shards of ambient ornamentation, each song features frontman Eugene Owens' restrained, smooth vocals that jump from Tom Petty to Nick Drake to M. Ward. Taking this opportunity to play newer, upbeat tracks like "Amalor" and "One Horse Man," it's easy to see that their sound gets louder as it expands. Judging by all the slow and somber energy generated by the bulk of there work, the decision to throw in some straight ahead rock & roll songs to get the party going proved a wise decision.
The Crowd: A typically eclectic Long Beach crowd of hipsters, scruffy bar room types and drunk people with birthday hats.
Overheard: "It's Zack's birthday? Alright, I love Zack! What's his last name again?"