Live Review: Dead Meadow at Cafe du Nord


Live: Dead Meadow Date: Saturday, March 3 Openers: Lovelikefire, Spindrift, and the Starlite Desperation Better than: Tripping out all alone Rating: 7.0

Washington, DC's neo-psych rockers Dead Meadow sold out the Cafe Du Nord on Saturday as part of Noise Pop's 2007 weeklong music festival in San Francisco. Dead Meadow unabashedly displayed its anti-indie-rock ethic by hooking up smoke machines, neon flashing lights, and swirling designs as accompaniment to its set of heavy stoner psych. Lead singer Jason Simon remained firmly in front of the mic throughout most of the set, delivering blistering guitar solos which relied heavily on his use of his reverb, delay, and wah-wah pedals. His vocals were unfortunately severely muffled by either the sheer volume eliciting from the band's monster vintage amps or the sound engineer's ineptitude, but either way it didn't matter. No one came to hear the singer moan about dark forests with emerald secrets; the audience was here to see a trio which has been playing together for ten years deliver volume, technical skill, and rhythmic proficiency through instrumental psych-rock abandon.

What were the openers like? Well, Bay Area's Spindrift played an interesting set that involved an eight-piece comprising three guitarists, a bassist, drummer, percussionist, and lead singer. They were all dressed in full cowboy/vintage garb and played songs consisting of mainly slow stoner rock with an emphasis on the tandem syncopation of the rhythm section. The highlight of their set was a superb track that involved the band chanting like Native Americans to an Ennio Morricone "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" desert rhythm, while the rest of the band looked as if they were about to initiate us into a peyote ritual. Sounds weird? Well it was, but hey, this is San Francisco.

The Starlite Desperation was a trio of bass/guitar/drums that played with the fury of meth addicts desperate to find their first fix of the week. The lead singer opened the set with a scream that went on for like two minutes, only to be followed by a second scream by the drummer that matched the first one in intensity, if not length. The band then quickly launched into a set of songs that sounded like the Hives on a mission to get back to the top of the charts. Remember them? -- Oscar Medina

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK: Previous experience: Dead Meadow at the Starry Plough in Berkeley Personal bias: I own every Dead Meadow record Random quote of the night: Gay guy screams at Dead Meadow, "Man, you guys are fucking hot!" (after the blistering set) "No, but what I actually mean is you guys are really ..." (gets cut off by lead singer). "Yeah, I know what you mean, man, I know what you mean." (audience erupts in laughter)