Sign up for our newsletters    

Baltimore City Paper home page.

When Black Friday Comes to the Ottobar

November 30, 2007

The day after Thanksgiving has almost as many connotations as the day itself: making leftover turkey sandwiches, shopping, or going back to work for one more day and spending a mellow night out among whatever other stragglers haven’t left town for a long weekend. This year a good show happened on Black Friday: the Ottobar’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek Burn Books for Peace benefit, a good occasion to practice the latter tradition.

The main draw for us was Monarch, the local duo who left a big impression earlier this year at the Lo-Fi Social Club and then left an even bigger one with its quietly gorgeous debut album, If Children. Monarch’s set began with a highlight from that album, “Warning,” but from there on out was composed almost entirely of new songs. It was exciting to get a preview of material from Monarch’s presumed second album—which, from the sounds of it, will rock a little harder—and focuses more heavily on vocals by guitarist Jenn Wasner vocals rather than drummer Andy Stack’s. He had plenty to keep himself busy, though, playing keyboards with his left hand on most songs. Stack might be the best one-armed drummer since Rick Allen. Still, we would’ve liked to hear a couple more familiar favorites–such as “Obituary”–and the 35-minute set was over far too soon.

The other draw was Yukon, four shaggy dudes who play incredibly precise and intricate polyrhythms with a healthy amount of noise and hollering. Drummer Nick Podgurski looks like a mad conductor as he swings his sticks around, cueing everything the rest of the band does. And aside from the occasional killer guitar lead, we were happy to concentrate on his beats rather than giving ourselves a headache trying to make sense of the dense whole of Yukon’s music.

The only minor disappointments of the show were missing the first band, Stay Fucked (not that we have any idea what it sounds like, but c’mon, it’s called Stay Fucked) and being underwhelmed by the last one, Jason Dove and the Magic Whip. Dove plays the kind of earnest, classic rock-influenced indie pop that we’re generally a good audience for, but on Friday he and his band just weren’t clicking with us. Maybe we’ll give Dove another chance on some night when the basis of comparison isn’t two other local acts that we already think are awesome.