Photo by James BunoanBlow Up Blow
Sunday, Dec. 14
Alex's Bar, Long Beach
"This song is about having the best Saturday night of your life," says the singer of Blow Up Blow, "or the best Sunday night of your life." Close enough. For the past six minutes of a cozy Sunday night show at Alex's, we got one of the best opening bands of our recent weekends. Blow Up Blow (named after the film by Ant-Ant-Antonioni?) came with a good backstory. Bassist Dennis (ex-Action League and a DJ at Que Sera's soul club Good Foot) and drummer Bob (also appearing in the Bolides!) apparently have been practicing with two guitarists in secrecy so they could hit the stage like a commando squad. This (by our count) was their second show, and you know what? That secrecy thing worked. While the set started with some mistunings so brutal that half the bar went sterile, Blow Up Blow fixed it quick and never made another mistake. It's weird: the guitars drop into the songs from outer space, tumbling from effects-pedal overdressing (close your eyes and stand by a speaker, and you'd think they had a keyboard in there) to naked one-string bellringing, and it all sort of hovers over the rhythm section, a pushy everything-at-once sound that gets your attention quick. "Pharmaceutical Solution" isn't quite Pere Ubu, but you could get there if they played slower, and "Super Tonite" was the oddball finale, a long slalom through atomically precise prog-funk-punk (no, but good: like Mission of Burma vs. Neu! vs. the Meters) beats that don't waver. Stability like that for six minutes is something you find in highwire routines, not bars, but they weren't show-offy about it. Bar master Alex had kicked the stage around to turn it into a Paris Hilton-friendly catwalk, but Blow Up Blow sheepishly tiptoed out to the front end and pulled the microphones all the way back to the drum kit. No prancing, just playing, even though you got the feeling they could have done "Super Tonite" (seriously: last best bass-and-drums of 2003) inside a Tilt-A-Whirl and never spun out a note. We asked Dennis later why they didn't decide to shake it out in the crowd: "Ah," he shrugged, "I was just feeling kind of shy."