As US Girls took to the stage at Lee’s Palace, singer Meghan Remy surveyed the crowd with a quizzical look on her face as if she were looking far off into the horizon. Yes, it was the Friday night of a long weekend and they were the opening act and so, the already sparse crowd seemed even smaller since most were keeping their distance from the stage or not even there yet. After a smattering of applause following their first song, Remy responded with, “Oh, you’re alive.” It’s a shame there weren’t more people there to take it in, but the band took it in stride with Remy later saying jokingly to the crowd, “You guys are too broke to get out of town … Get a job.” They ended off their set with a brilliant version of Tracy Chapman’s “For My Lover” that they transformed into a doom metal-esque dirge.
The crowd, while still sparse, moved closer to the stage for Oneida‘s set. Like US Girls, they also acknowledged the long weekend, albeit with a bizarre joke about celebrating Jerry Garcia’s 100th birthday (it would have actually been his 72nd, but who`s counting?) and how none of them were going to die, but that it does happen because they’d seen it on TV. Or something like that.
Joined by Yo La Tengo’s James McNew on bass, the band played an impressive set of heavy psych jams based around the use of repetitive riffs and rhythms. While Oneida definitely had a few of the dudes near the front of the stage feeling it, the band were clearly feeling it too, with drummer Kid Millions being the most visibly into it. In a way, Kid Millions is the closest thing I’ve seen to a real life human version of Animal from The Muppets – so much energy and enthusiasm and one hell of a drummer. They closed things out with a blistering version of ”Up With People” that featured most of the band singing the refrain,”You’ve got to get up to get free.”
All in all, an impressive, albeit underattended, night of music. Happy birthday, Jerry Garcia!