Retribution Gospel Choir / No Wait Wait
Bottom of the Hill

September 5, 2005

Review by Jake Thomas

I got there in the middle of No Wait Wait’s set, and was somewhat surprised at the low turnout considering the pedigree of the band playing after, but such is life, and the band played on. At their better moments, NWW sounded like Sloan if they had been raised in the Central Valley…couple of them even had beards to help this comparison along. Now I know you’re saying to yourself “doesn’t that pretty much describe Dios (Malos)?” and to that I would say yes, and this group reminded me of them somewhat and get off my ass if my comparisons suck. Nice vocals with a lot of harmonizing between the singer, the keyboard player, and the drummer, and an all around decent sound. Some of their material was a bit too KFOG-adult contemporary, but the good outweighed the bad so I didn’t mind. A decent opening set to be sure.

The reason for being out at Bottom of the Hill this late on Monday night was up next, Retribution Gospel Choir. If you don’t know about this band, it’s a side project of Alan Sparhawks (of Low), and although it has a revolving cast of characters Mark Kozelek sometimes participates - and was on this tour. Joining them was a bassist and the drummer from No Wait Wait, and together they made a rowdy sound that pleased my ears something fierce. There were renditions of Low songs, of Sun Kil Moon songs, some originals, and some covers. Of particular note was their version of the SKM song “Salvador Sanchez”, which would go down as being one of my favorite songs of all year if I were to have a recorded version of this live track. Also noteworthy is this was the least surly I’ve ever seen the Koz, he was good natured actually. Same could be said for Spar hawk - perhaps they feel less pressure in this formation than they do fronting their regular bands and performing under those names? Or maybe they were just good and liquored up? I dunno, but it was a great show.