On a seemingly quiet Tuesday night, that lone, well-tucked downtown block of East Mohawk Street will rattle with an explosive four-band bill of young, highly touted touring rock bands that are sure to be commanding more than $2 a piece before too long -- bands that probably would be already if not for their undying love for Mohawk Place.
Among Grand Champeen, Two Cow Garage, Milton Mapes and Semi-Tough are four burgeoning labels; three acclaimed appearances at last month's South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas; two bands that have toured across oceans and still consider Mohawk Place to be one of the best music clubs anywhere; and one hell of a commitment to the sweaty spirit of rock 'n' roll.
Call it a blessing or a curse, but Grand Champeen can't get its name in the paper without being compared to the Replacements and Soul Asylum. It's the easiest way to pigeonhole its full-throttle sound, a double-ax, rock 'n' roll monster with one arm being tugged by twang and the other pulled by punk, shown brilliantly on 2003's "The One That Brought You" (Glurp). The Austin natives have been arranging the follow-up around a relentless touring schedule that last brought them to Buffalo in June, when a rowdy band of loyals who refused to let them rest on an extended, lead-footed set were given a late-night bonus parade of classic covers, highlighted by a breath-catching take on Neil Young's pensive gem "Motion Pictures" and an ear-bleeding take on Motorhead's "Ace of Spades."
"We finished our set there one night a few years back, and Bill the bartender stood on the bar and said that no one would be served until we played 'Ace of Spades,' " laughed guitarist/vocalist Michael Crow. "So now it's our Mohawk theme song."
Two Cow Garage purveys "cow punk," perhaps the coolest genre name to come since "sludge." The Columbus-based trio, sporting two DIY ventures in a new EP and live DVD to augment last year's "The Wall Against Our Backs" (Shelterhouse), will attempt to build on a head-turning, speaker-crashing set at last year's Americanarama at Mohawk.
"Everyone at Mohawk's been so good to us, it's like a family atmosphere," said bassist/vocalist Shane Sweeney. "Sometimes when we've been on the road for months, knowing that there's a show coming up there has kept us going."
Another Austin export with a heavy buzz, Milton Mapes, will be making its Buffalo debut in support of "The Blacklight Trap" (Undertow), which the group daringly compares to Neil Young's "On the Beach," the overlooked classic from which Grand Champeen plucked "Motion Pictures."
Kicking the show off appropriately will be our own Semi-Tough, whose HarvestSum Records debut is targeted for this summer.
Dress light for this one; it's going to feel like summer once these bands get in gear.
Grand Champeen, Two Cow Garage, Milton Mapes and Semi-Tough will play a show at 8 p.m. tonight in Mohawk Place, 47 E. Mohawk St. 855-3931.