The Blacks

The Blacks

with Adult Rodeo

The Handle-Bar, Pensacola, FL • June 16, 2000

This was a show that seemed to have a curse on it. The club that originally booked the bands lost its lease without a new location ready to go, so the Handle-Bar stepped in and picked up the show. There was virtually no promotion done, and to top it off, the first substantial rain in weeks was falling. Even with all that, a sizable, if late-arriving, crowd braved the wet weather both outside and inside (as the roof was leaking around the skylights) for a glimpse of the Blacks.

With a no-show opening band, Austin, Texas’ Adult Rodeo got things rolling. This co-ed quintet features four vocalists and a sound that is either experimental pop or poppy experimental, depending which way you swing. I have found their records to be a bit mushy and a hard listen, but I was taken aback by their tight grooves live. The closest band to compare them to is probably Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. Adult Rodeo is not as edgy or quite as audacious with their instrumentation, but are travelling down a similar trail. Decked in their striped pajamas, Adult Rodeo put on a solid set that gave little warning for what was to come.

Hailing from the country music Mecca of Chicago (?), the Blacks perform a live set that has few peers. With a pretty faade that masks a darker core, this power trio performs as if their lives depend on it. With their songs of love gone wrong and haunted desires, Gina and Danny Black slowly and maliciously attack one another and the audience with their words. The band is a great deal of fun to listen to, even though there is a continuous thread of melancholy running through their songs. The energy of the band is a sight to behold, with Danny’s understated guitar work keeping everything in balance as James on drums and Gina with her upright bass (painted with nude women) threaten to get totally out of hand. The only thing James pounded harder than his drum kit was the six pack of beer that he slammed at an impressive rate. Gina is truly a sight to behold with the power of her bass playing – both plucked and bowed. She is like William Tutton from the Geraldine Fibbers, Jimbo Wallace from Reverend Horton Heat, and Corey Parks from Nashville Pussy all rolled into one. The crowd – once they survived the initial onslaught – really got into the show, with people screaming and dancing and begging for an encore, which featured a great cover of Kurt Weill’s “Alabama Song.”

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