Monday, June 9, 2014

Drum on the Clocks, and Strum on the wires - Channels, BELLS≥, and Soccer Team at Rock 'n Roll Hotel

So, for those who don't know, Channels was a band that formed after the break up of Burning Airlines. Some of the reasons for the break up were J. Robbin's desire to record/produce more, tour less, and spend more time with his lovely wife, Janet. But one who's life revolves around music, both producing others and writing his own, can't simply stop. Thus was born Channels, made up of J, Janet and drummer extraordinaire, Darren "I can make all the rock faces" Zentek. It was a wonderful mix of personalities and talents that produced an EP on DeSoto - and a full length on Dischord. During this time, Channels played a handful of mostly East Coast shows, and J and Janet had a wonderful kid named Cal. Shortly before Cal's 1st birthday, he was diagnosed with type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), and life understandably changed for J and Janet. I won't go into detail here, but needless to say, the band took a backseat to Cal's care. You can read more about Cal and SMA here. There is also a link on the right to donate to help out with the very expensive care the Cal requires.

So, fast forward to 2014 and the Channels records are being put out on vinyl for the first time by Arctic Rodeo records. In celebration, Channels got together to play two shows - one in Baltimore and one in DC. By all accounts the shows went well. I can't speak for the Baltimore show, as I missed it, but the DC show was really fun, and they sounded great. J even said to me about a week later that they were really fun to play, and it made him "want to do it again". So who knows, but it would be fun.

The pics are here and here.

Open the night's show was a band from Brooklyn known as BELLS≥. And no, that is not a typo. It is spelled - in all caps followed by the "greater than or equal to" sign. I have done it enough now to know how to type the ≥ symbol without looking it up (OPT/ALT - period key on a Mac, you're welcome). BELLS≥   features the former back beat of Jawbox, Zach Barocas, Chris Ernst and Stephen Shodin on guitar, and Tom Broucksou on bass. I am not normally a fan of instrumental bands, but there have been a few lately that have gotten my attention, and BELLS≥ is most certainly one of them (Black Clouds would be the other one currently). They have and undeniable energy that is driven by Zach's drums - and accented beautifully by Chris's and Stephen's guitar work. The bass work was handled admirably by Tom in what was to be his second-to-last show (nothing ugly - he and his wife are moving to the West Coast - tough commute back to Brooklyn). Also joining them on stage was DC's noted rock cellist Gordon Withers - notably of J's other band Office of Future Plans - and also featured on BELLS≥ last record "Solutions, Silence and Affirmations".

The pics are here.

Wrapping up the night nicely was Soccer Team. While they had the tough job of following Channels set, they handled it well and provided the crowd with a nice set that featured quite a few new songs. Despite Ryan's complaint that he couldn't see the "dots on his guitar," they sounded great - and provided a nice ending to the night. They have been playing more lately, and now we know they have been writing new material, so here's to hoping there's a new recording in the near future.

See the pics here and here.

Ok, I have a few more quick posts to put up shortly - one old one new.

till next time, see you in the pit.


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