CLINIC with SONS AND DAUGHTERS and MIDNIGHT MOVIES at Lee's Palace, November 5. Tickets: $15. Attendance: 450. Rating: NNN
As an opening act in the late 70s , Van Halen always blew the headliners off the stage. Once, they even hired look-alikes to parachute into a stadium show. The headlining band had absolutely no chance. There was no parachuting at Lee's Friday night, but there was a similar situation: two hot openers, a packed house and a closing band with a mammoth quandary.
Right off the top, things didn't look good for Clinic , the headliners.
Led by Gena Olivier , L.A.'s Midnight Movies put the first nail in Clinic's coffin. Dead sexy in faded blue jeans and a slim blue top, Olivier was a vision. She pounded her drums, howled like a banshee and tossed her hair like she just didn't care.
Meanwhile, bearded multi-instrumentalist Jason Hammons lurched behind his armada of gear, flooding the room with ghostly bits of synth, percussion and deep, dizzying bass. After a particularly potent number, some dude blurted to Olivier, "I'm in love with you." Most of the audience felt the same way.
By the time Glasgow's Sons and Daughters dove onto the darkened stage, the floor was packed, the booze was flowing and the Pitchforkmedia mafia were gettin' rowdy. The Glaswegians were just what the doctor ordered, too, cajoling a packed dance floor with their indie rock hoedowns and some serious girl-boy vocal action. Even fiery guitarist Scott Paterson looked genuinely surprised at the response. "Seriously," he said to rapturous applause, "this is the best audience of the tour."
Which brings us to Clinic. (Still with the scrubs outfits, guys?) Keeping their stage banter to a terse "th'queue" after each tune, the Liverpudlian quartet mechanically drove through several droning art-punk dirges, some of them taken from their new Winchester Cathedral LP.
It wasn't until vocalist Ade Blackburn pulled out his melodica and led his masked men through the bouncy Equaliser that things started to pick up. Still, the band's reliance on a one-dimensional sonic palette - loud surf guitar, chugging drums, yowly vocals - ensured that many of the songs blended together.
Clinic should be thanking their openers. Without them, the night might have been a crashing disaster.