Saturday, January 20th, 2007
The New Designers
Last night the El Mocambo played host to a ridiculous ten bands as some sort of all-ages showcase that felt more than a little like a high school coffee house. And though the combo was relatively value-priced, I went in a la carte interested only in seeing The Vulcan Dub Squad.
Not Vulcans nor playing dub or even having enough members to fully constitute a US army squad, the Vulcans were playing their first show in a year, having taken the time off to record a new album (The New Designers, out very soon) and shuffle the roster around a bit (newly expanded to a five-piece). They also shed their old stage uniforms in favour of some dapper suits which, while less original, sure look a hell of a lot better.
Describing the Vulcans isn’t the easiest task – stylistically they run the gamut from gently jangling pop to hyperkinetic riffery, often within the same song. The high level of musicianship is obvious but they thankfully don’t let that overwhelm their attention to songcraft. Instead they thread the needle, crafting energetic, danceable rock that’s still hooky and really interesting to listen to – there’s definitely no shortage of musical ideas in their collective heads. They could probably be a jam band if they wanted but instead choose to be a pop band and the world is a better place for it (for having one less jam band in it, that is).
Their stage show was also tight and impactful, especially considering the time off, with frontman Ranbir Gundu alternately leaping around or lounging on a old-style telephone bench sipping a glass of Scotch. If there was a complaint, it was that Gundu’s expletive-laced between-song banter was overlong, pointless and most egregiously, not funny. There was enough of an adolescent vibe in the room without him adding to it but on the other hand, when in Rome, right?