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Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013

LAZY w/ Technicolor Teeth @ Circle-A Café

Jan. 9, 2013

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After an afternoon that was practically balmy, Wednesday took a familiarly frigid turn post-sundown, bringing us all back to the icy reality that is January in Wisconsin. January is typically a slow time for shows, so Wednesday night’s twofer at Circle-A Café was one of the first real head-turners of the infant year, featuring Appleton’s Technicolor Teeth and LAZY, a four-piece passing through on tour from Kansas City. Crammed into the cozy confines of the Riverwest bar, the show turned out to be the perfect relief from the frigid temperatures, and a welcome jumpstart for Milwaukee music in 2013.

Wednesday’s audience seemed at first a little subdued—probably a combination of it being a week night and the cold weather—but it didn’t take long for Technicolor Teeth to thaw them out. In fact, the band seemed a bit sluggish as well, which kind of worked. They came awake slowly but surely along with the audience, finally hitting their groove during the catchy chorus of “Chrystalline” from last year’s excellent teenage pagans. Technicolor Teeth make a lot of noise for just three guys, and the impenetrable roar emanating from the twin half-stacks flanking them enveloped the room like a big, crunchy blanket. While its recordings are a thick stew of blown-out guitar and woozy atmospherics, the band’s stripped-down live show made up for studio heft with raw grunge and a powerful rhythm section. Wednesday’s set was too short and didn’t include pagans standout “Station Wagon,” but it offered a glimpse of some new material and caused a guy in front of me to turn to his friend and say, “shit, yeah.”

LAZY seemed a bit nervous taking the floor, which was surprising based on the snotty confidence the band exudes on Obsession, a skull-rattling batch of youthful punk rock that includes songs with titles like “Party City” and “Boys in the Bathroom.” Then again, it’s unlikely the relatively unknown band is used to seeing wall-to-wall crowds of strangers like the one that filled Circle-A on Wednesday, so its shaky start is understandable. Like Technicolor Teeth, LAZY gathered steam as the set went on, despite some sloppy play and the antics of its bassist, who hit his head on a low-hanging light fixture while trying to stand up on the bar. LAZY is good at writing the kind of hoarse-throated sing-alongs (“Party City,” “What’s Next,” “Childhood Wonder”) that could really stir up a crowd with a little booze in its system, but for whatever reason—probably lack of booze—the hits didn’t connect so viscerally Wednesday. That said, the audience seemed engaged and even cheered for an encore, which turned out to be one of the set’s highlights, a mid-tempo number called “Lifted.”

Now that the holidays have passed, Milwaukee’s music scene is beginning to show signs of life. Wednesday’s show was a memorable way to start the year, made even more impressive by the fact that two out-of-town bands were able to fill a small club in Riverwest on a weeknight. Can I get a “shit, yeah”?