Poster Children

Poster Children

with Tender Idols, Young Antiques

Echo Lounge, Atlanta • April 15, 1999

The Poster Children have everything I look for in a band — they’re loud, fast, tight, have a sense of humor, and they’re Macintosh power users. Stir those things together and you’ve got a great record like their New World Record (spinART). Add an audience, shake lightly and — PRESTO — it’s the amazing rock show of the season!

The Young Antiques were an energetic trio, bouncing around like epileptics while kicking out country-tinged power pop. Especially uplifting was a juiced-up version of Bowie’s “Five Years,” about the last thing I expected to hear from these cowpokes.

The ever-popular Tender Idols did as fine an interpretation of Oasis as the Gallagher brothers themselves. What they lack in originality, though, they make up for in fan appeal — the club mysteriously filled up with young women as the band came on, then just as mysteriously emptied when they were done. If there’s a secret ingredient in their fog machine, I’d like to get some.

Finally, the Poster Children took the stage. They seemed to have a good time just setting up their gear, and Rose Marshack (bass) killed a few minutes handing out girl scout cookies (Samoas), leading the club in singing “Happy Birthday” to guitarist Jim Valentin, and cracking a few jokes.

The crowd was small, but one of the most dedicated I’ve seen at any show — people were jumping and singing along with every song. And with good reason: the band ROCKED. This was easily the most sonic-sational show around these parts in months.

They started off with three songs from the new record; “Ankh” is a driving, pounding ode to some benevolent higher power, though with lyrics like “He’s superfine, He’s worldwide, He’s back in town to get things done,” they might be talking about themselves. “Accident Waiting to Happen” is a first-person account of a DUI bystander, set to a bouncy Antmusic drumbeat. More precision staccato drumming in “6 x 6”, a high-tech lament (“Apartment of my dreams, surrounded by machines, this room’s got everything I need… My room is 6 x 6”). They ripped through half the songs on the new record, plus an assortment from past albums.

Rose is all energy, jumping and twirling, living the songs — at one point she had to untangle her cord, which had become a plate of black spaghetti from her gyrations. Singer/guitarist Howie Kantoff has the energetic quirkiness and appeal of David Byrne or Frank Black. With the musical talent and energy of Primus, XTC, or the Buzzcocks, I can see why their fans were so devoted to this band. Finishing the show, they were called back for two “real” encores (not preplanned on the set-list), including “If You See Kay” from their ’92 Daisychain Reaction .

One of the great things about the Poster Children is how they’ve extended the DIY punk ethic into the high-tech age, doing all their own graphics, including software goodies on their records, and maintaining a great and personal web site. At one point, Rose snapped a photo of the audience with a digital camera for inclusion in the “tour reports” section of the site.

Now, here’s the weird thing. Fast forward two days later, and a visit to the site finds a current tour report including a review of this show. And I was shocked to read that they thought it was “terrible” and they “played like crap.” I don’t understand how the view from the stage could be so different from that of the audience.

Between this gig and the last time I saw them (in ’92 or so), I can honestly say the Poster Children are one of the best live bands I’ve seen. If this was a bad show, I don’t think I could live through a good one. But maybe one day, I’ll get a chance to try…

Screen savers, MP3s, wildly inaccurate tour reports, and more at the official Poster Children website, http://www.posterchildren.com

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