Foreign Born / Frog Eyes / Black Mountain / Boyjazz
Café DuNord
April 16, 2005

Review by Meg Sharkey

Foreign Born was nearing the end of their set by the time I arrived at Café Du Nord. Their tunefully intense pop, heavily accented by the Psychedelic Furs, spread a huge and probably goofy looking smile across my face. A few girls in front danced gleefully, in that way only the best 80s pop can make you dance. After their last song, I went to try and buy their CD which was selling for the bargain price of $5, but I couldn't find anyone to sell it to me. The band was probably being swamped with girls wanting to buy them drinks.

I did run into the esteemed Mr. Cory Brown, in attendance to support Absolutely Kosher's act Frog Eyes out of Victoria, Canada, and he was excited for me to see these guys for the first time. The band started up without the tentative warm-up noises that usually serve in the stead of lights dimming or intermission bells, so we hustled inside. The four piece band was arranged strangely askew, crowded onto the left-hand side of the stage, as if they were all on a boat that was listing to port. The bassist and lap-steel guitarist were on the extreme left, towards the back of the stage. Mooring the center stage was the drummer, who had her toms set very low, almost lower than her knees, and Casey Mercer took the stage right of center, as if he needed all that remaining space, and darted looks at the crowd with a wild eye. Casey's delivery definitely brought to mind Black Francis (not Frank Black, mind you), swooping wildly between clear falsetto and urgent sotto voce, but even darker andmore psychedelically deranged. They were soul-quenchingly enjoyable for this Pixies fanatic.

Another Canadian band took the stage next, Black Mountain, hailing from Vancouver and touring with Frog Eyes. They unabashedly embrace their Black Sabbath influence, and borrow a bit of the groove of Led Zeppelin, but manage to make something great and surprising out of it -- just like the surprise hit song of their set "No Satisfaction", which is not a cover of the Stones, but a new and great song with a similar chorus, that had the whole crowd shakin' it, and Mr. "Members Only" jacket beside me pumping his fist in the air. The vocals in Black Mountain are top-notch, pairing the clear rock voice of Stephen McBride with the smokey vox of Amber Webber to produce psych rock that will hold your attention (and this from someone who doesn't usually like songs lasting longer than five minutes).

After Black Mountain, it was time to switch gears from the slow headbang to rocking out with local favorites, Boyjazz. The crowd was keyed up to dance to their hook-filled glam punk (oxymoronic, I know) and they delivered a high-energy, shamelessly fun set peppered with good-natured heckling from the crowd between songs, which came fast and furious.

I'd venture that no one left DuNord disappointed with the choice they'd made about what to do on Saturday night. I got the Frog Eyes and Black Mountain CDs and walked home happy.