There's something almost magical about seeing indie rock being played in a dingy, smoke-filled room with a mediocre-sized crowd on a forgettable night. In perfect script, Those Bastard Souls, and specifically singer-guitarist David Shouse, played a heartfelt, melodic set. Mellow in nature with ephemeral glimpses of intensity, the music played by this Memphis band was reminiscent in structure of that of the late Jeff Buckley. Not surprisingly, guitarist Michael Tighe, a member of Buckley's band, plays on Those Bastard Souls' latest disc, Debt & Departure, although he wasn't present for this show.
After arriving onstage just past midnight and meandering/noodling around for a few minutes, the quartet, which also included an effective violinist, played "The Last Thing I Ever Wanted Was to Show Up and Blow Your Mind." With its subtle, mid-tempo pace and sly violin counterpunch, the syrupy, acoustic-driven song was a tear-in-your-beer ballad. Other standouts included "Up to You," on which the group came together with visceral intensity, as the violin darted in and out of the melody, and "Telegram," a song whose gentle melody contrasted with the rugged and weathered Shouse, who poured out his soul. While not exasperating, Those Bastard Souls' set ultimately lacked the sparkle or shine to turn an average performance into an unforgettable one. Then again, that might be the point when you're playing to a dingy, smoke-filled room with a mediocre-sized crowd.
Have you ever seen a one-man band in which the lone musician plays a drum, trumpet, and tambourine, and sings? Probably not, but the Lonesome Organist pulled it off -- he played a keyboard with one arm, the drums with another, and sang into a homemade mic/mouth harp (held together with duct tape). Surprisingly, this solo performer kicked out jams with a techno edge (thank God for a sampling keyboard) while beating away at his drum kit -- just think of Def Leppard's drummer -- and delivering heavily distorted vocals.