I went to two rock shows this weekend. The first was the Coathangers, a girl-group from Atlanta that was all shaggy bangs and skinny jeans, bathed in blue light on the tiny stage at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar. My friend Andy called them an "angry inner city version of the B-52′s." They played songs like "Nestle in My Boobies," "Shut the Fuck Up" and "Don’t Touch My Shit." Five bucks at the door got me a nice dose of punchy street cred from a foursome that rolls in an Econoline and probably lives on espresso drinks and ramen noodles.
Noodling was on my mind the next night on the way to see Dave Matthews Band at JPJ. I had heard "Ants Marching" earlier in the day at my dermatologist’s office, so as I lined up to enter (girls on the left, boys on the right due to same-sex frisking policies), I was vaguely dreading that this weekend’s "Dave" shows—a pair billed as the last until at least 2012—would be an elevator music demonstration played for local suburbanites who can still afford concert tickets.
Things looked up when the band, now seven strong with Tim Reynolds on guitar and a horn section, walked slowly onstage bathed in blue light to screams that washed over them for seven minutes before they played a note. Fans around me on the floor, mostly in their 20s and only a third of them sporting baseball caps, screamed every chorus if not every word of the 20 or so upbeat songs, mostly from this past decade as opposed to classic ’90s material. Hometown touches included an extended guitar duel on "#41" from Reynolds and band employee Joe Lawlor on a wailing Stratocaster, and additional horns on "Jimi Thing" by jazz man John D’earth and Trombone Shorty, who was in town with his crew to open the show. It gave the show a triumphant feeling, and both the band and its fans reveled in it.
I slipped out before the encore but it was not hard to find it nerdily documented online later in the night. Just like in the 10 or so other DMB shows I have seen since the early ’90s, Bob Dylan’s "All Along the Watchtower" was the heart of it, which reminded me that like the Coathangers, Dave and the boys still have not only swagger but rock credibility too.—Grippy Toulouse