All words: Jeb Gavin — All photos: Eric Uhlir
I supposed I have now been whelmed by a concert, as Frankie Rose’s show at the Rock and Roll Hotel neither over nor underwhelmed me. I don’t think I can otherwise explain her short set late Wednesday night. Wasn’t particularly bad—I’m not here to excoriate her, but it wasn’t particularly remarkable either.
The show opened with a rather impressive, echoing chorus of ladies singing “You Can Make Me Feel Bad,” though it failed to stir the mellow-to-the-point-of-anemia crowd. Maybe it was just a sleepy Wednesday night, and no one much felt like rocking. As the songs wore on, Rose was pleasant, even happy to interact with a largely indifferent audience, but there were no rock show antics, and nothing to get the blood pumping.
Watching each subsequent song, I tried pinning down the sound. It’s lo-fi indie rock, not unlike Rose’s work with the Vivian Girls or Dum Dum Girls, but with more harmonic guitar work counterbalancing the chorus of girls’ effects-laden voices. At times, it invoked Liz Phair’s earlier, Girlysound work. Sometimes the smoky vocals sounded more like Stevie Nicks’ solo efforts over syncopated drums and melodic guitar picking.
The more I think back on the evening, the more I remember enjoying it. Soft voices undercut the four on the floor Detroit rock drum beat of “Night Swim.” The ethereal “Pair of Wings” is one of those songs which, had I heard it in passing on a record, I’d of thought it beautiful, but live it’s devastating and heartrending and yet oddly uplifting.
Their final song of the night, a cover of the Cure’s “A Forest” was driving and jangling and felt like too little, too late in terms of salvaging the energy in the room. Again, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves; the show was good, but not amazing. These days I’m looking for music I can hang my heart on, and musicians who love music so much, I can’t help but love it, too. Watching Frankie and her band, I get that she’d rather be playing music than anything else, and I’m happy to watch, but it doesn’t seem vital, at least not yet.
You Can Make Me Feel Bad
Had We Had It All
Pair of Wings
Moon in My Mind