The Show: Though they may not have much name recognition among hipster circles in Orange County, San Diego band the Silent Comedy had La Cave in the palm of their hands on Friday, unleashing exuberant, turn-of-the-century rock cabaret. Dawning everything from waistcoats to handlebar mustaches and bowler hats, the rowdy six-piece looked like extras from a vintage Charlie Chaplin flick (hence the band name).
Surrounded by a packed room of fans and barflies, the band thrashed and howled on songs like “'49” and “Bartholomew.” They displayed a tough, textured sound that included some memorable mandolin and violin flourishes. Think O Brother, Where Art Thou? mixed with devilish gypsy punk. Though their set seemed to end too quickly, there's no doubt that they left La Cave with more than a few new fans.
Sharing a rough-and-tumble rock kinship with the Silent Comedy, it's no surprise that Mississippi Man garnered an equally impressive crowd response. Although their sound is more 1960s folk-pop than old-timey cabaret, MM's knack for thumping rhythms and gang vocals were enough to keep the room's fiery energy alive. And by midnight, songs like “Hell's Oven” set the mood for more bouncy good times to come. Above all, Mississippi Man's live show proves that rediscovering sounds of decades past can be satisfying as long as you are committed to bringing something new to the table. In this case, harmonies and strong song structures managed to bring new life into each jangly guitar solo and loping, country drum beat. They ended their set with “The Fight,” a crowd favorite that never fails to incite boots stomps and a giant sing-along for the chorus of “ohhs and ahhs”.
Though Handsome G's mesh of big beat rock & roll and carefully crafted pop hooks were an obvious change of pace, it couldn't have come at a better time, as the sweaty crowd thinned and drunk couples began stumbling onto the dance floor. Packing crunchy guitar and light-hearted soul, songs like “Come Get Some” and “Better Than Being Alone” definitely found their place with La Cave's lingering fans–we were destined to wake up on Saturday morning with a hang over and a head full of infectious tunes.
The Crowd: This Costa Mesa steak house/concert venue always generates an interesting mix of people once the restaurant closes down and the music acts start moving in. Friday night was a similar deal offering an odd swirl of twentysomething party animals, well-dressed older couples and wandering women in tight cocktail dresses.
Overheard: At one point during the Silent Comedy's set, lead vocalist/bass player Joshua Zimmerman fell to his knees, writhing around with his bass like a man possessed to which one female voice commented, “I think I just got wet.” Ah, the power of rock & roll.