Harlem, Jaill, Worrier @ Mad Planet
By Sanam Tala Sadeghi
Ah yes, another great Monday night show. As Vinnie Kircher pointed out during Jaill‘s set, most of us at the show probably didn’t have great jobs, but even if you did, the show was fully worth any lack of sleep or hangover that might have plagued you on Tuesday.
I started off the evening with some of my favorite ladies at Foundation, where we dawdled until a little after 10:00 pm, at which point we decided it would be prudent to head towards the show. (It was, after all, a Monday night, and Milwaukee “punk time” seems less prevalent at the efficiently run Mad Planet.) While outside trying to decide whether to walk or drive (very important business) a somewhat weathered man in his fifties, wearing an entirely too small shirt reading “I’m a bitch” (!!!) and cargo camo pants, approached us, asking if we had any of what the kids call “pot.” Taken off guard by his forward request, we all said no, after which he lingered, annoyingly, as my only wish at that moment was to discuss the absurdity of his t-shirt. Much to our dismay he entered Mad Planet at the same time as us. (Did anyone else see this guy??)
After Worrier, I had enough time to get a drink and chat a little before Jaill. The “I’m a bitch” guy unfortunately managed to position himself right next to where I was standing, but once Jaill started I forgot all about him. Ah, Jaill (I’m still getting used to the extra “l”), how I love thee. Never disappointing, their energy and charisma is subtle but intense, seen in Vinnie’s facial expressions and the band’s understated movements. I was on my toes the entire set, and frankly surprised that more people weren’t letting loose. Jaill’s brand of vintage pop is always fun, albeit sincere. Vinnie sings of lackadaisical laments or tongue in cheek irony, but it’s never too angry or too sad. How could it be, with drummer Austin Dutmer singing along and always smiling? And Vinnie’s hilarious stage banter keeps things lighthearted. Bassist Andy Harris kept it solid with some righteous basslines (and his shnazzy shirt, which, as Vinnie pointed out, was pretty cool looking), and guitarist Ryan Adams killed it, letting little nuggets of psychedelic guitar awesomeness shine through at just the right moments. Throughout the set, the band played a few new tunes that will be on their upcoming release with Sub Pop, which is just as good (if not better) than their previous material. I thought I’d be hard-pressed to find a Jaill song I liked more than “Beggar Sincere,” but I think some of their new jams are right up there with it. In fact, the Jaill boys finished their set on a high note for me in particular, ending with none other than “Beggar Sincere.”
Fortunately a few of us had positioned ourselves at the front of the stage, because by the time that Harlem started playing, the previously tame crowd finally started to let loose. Harlem is totally adorable, with an almost child-like quality to them (if you don’t believe me, listen to “Beautiful and Very Smart”), yet those guys can rock the fuck out. They’re on tour, supporting their new album “Hippies,” out on Matador Records, and it’s good guys. It’s really, really good. Honest, care-free, high energy, Harlem’s tunes could be the anthems of our generation. Their songs are spotted with tripped out psychedelia and the angst of being young (and perhaps too stoned), and you can feel it during their live set. Michael Coomers and Curtis O’Mara share guitar and drum duties (switching depending on what each song calls for), as well as taking turns on lead vocals, although often times they’re just singing together; bass player Jose Boyer holds it down, chiming in on the choruses. Their live set is phenomenal, and though I had seen them a few times before, this particular show was so much fun. It was a whirlwind of dancing, singing along, and laughing. The energy was great, and the band graciously acquiesced to the audience’s many requests, so much so that they had a five song encore. Occasionally, encores that are more than a couple songs can become a bit masturbatory, but Harlem was nothing but humble, and the audience nothing but grateful. At one point during the encore (I believe it might have been during “Gay Human Bones”) one Mr. Bob Purvis started lifting people up, including yours truly. One minute I was on the ground, the next I was in the air. So, if you saw a pair of red cowgirl boots floating around the air, those were mine. Unfortunately, due to the chaotic nature of such things, I was abruptly dropped, only to land on one of the speakers on stage. It’s a testament to Harlem that, despite such a literal and painful fall from grace, I immediately got up, shook it off, and started dancing again. Afterwards, the band ended their set with “Psychedelic Tits,” another great, weird song.
If Harlem is playing ANYWHERE near you, you will be a fool to not go see them. Also, go buy their album. Now. Really. Put on your best “I’m a bitch” tee and go do it.