Multi-act bills at Nietzsche's have become akin to minifestivals over the years. With the benefit of two stages -- the main boards in the back of the club and a smaller satellite stage up front by the bar -- bands rotate their sets, and the music never stops. When the bands are as well-matched as they were on Friday -- when Effective Resolution, Slip Madigan and the MKGs joined forces -- the lack of downtime adds to the momentum of the gig, and the night settles into a warm and inviting groove.
Well, kinda warm, at least -- Friday was a frigid one, and Allentown was treated to intermittent blasts of lake-effect white stuff. Impressively, this didn't seem to have curtailed the appetites of our music-loving citizenry for some live sounds. Nietzsche's wasn't packed to the rafters, but it was full and buzzing with activity all night. The action started with a well-attended happy hour set from A Band Named Sue, which carried on past 10 p.m. Effective Resolution took the stage quickly afterward, and by that point, the place was hopping.
The music of all three acts might loosely be described as belonging to the jam-band family, but of course, there's plenty of wiggle room within that idiomatic subset. Effective Resolution favors a strong rhythmic basis for its groove-centered songs, all of which come across as eminently danceable hybrids of R&B, rock and hip-hop. The core of the unit comprises bassist Andrew Moore and drummer Jim Levinthal, the engine room of the outfit. Even without vocalist Taylor Locking, formerly of the Little Mountain Band, on board on Friday, the Resolution gang offered a well-received set on the main stage.
Immediately following, new quartet the MKGs hit the downbeat on the front-of-house stage. A young band -- according to guitarist Mike Szczepanik, the group had only played three gigs previous to Friday's Nietzsche's show -- the MKGs displayed abundant promise with twin sets of psychedelia-tinged funk, soul and jam-band grooves. Again, the rhythm section was the key, as a lock-step interplay between bass and drums moved the music along, and allowed for some spacious and spacey interplay between the twin guitars. This was incredibly effective during the original track "Booze," and also aided in the success of some smartly chosen and adventurously arranged cover songs -- Cee-Lo Green's "Forget You" and Dr. John's "Right Place Wrong Time" blended Phish-like eccentricity with New Orleans funk to startling effect.
Slip Madigan continued to display the blend of solid song structure and giddy psychedelia that has made it one the most exciting bands on the Buffalo indie music scene over the past year. The twin guitars and meshed vocals of Ben Smith and Ryan McDonough are a true delight -- blending McDonough's edgy, angular, Syd Barrett-like lines with Smith's spacious, effect-laden chording and nimble solos while the rhythm section locks in with Dub-based precision is the band's stock in trade.
A cool light show, some screen projections, and art-installation-style cardboard blocks spelling out the band's name lent to the atmosphere Slip Madigan itself describes on its website as "psychedelic experimental folk-rocking mind-expanding knifetastic brainfood." A real mouthful, that, but it makes perfect sense when you find yourself in front of Slip Madigan's stage.
January is a tough month in music clubs around here, generally speaking, but on Friday, the indie music community was well represented at Nietzsche's, and those who made it out were rewarded abundantly for their efforts.
Effective Resolution Slip Madigan and the MKGs Nietzsche's Friday