Recap: Saturday Night in The Gutter

If any of you follow me on twitter, you know I’ve developed quite a flirty relationship with local band The Dazzling Dooms. I stumbled across these guys through the ever-popular social network and was quite impressed with their album work. One thing led to another, and last Saturday guess who sported a press pass for the release party at Brooklyn’s The Gutter? (If you haven’t guessed…it’s me…). So now you get to hear all about it.

After meeting band members Mark Gerlach (bass) and Alex Leon (guitar and vocals), I settled in for a night of vodka gimlets and live rock. Hoboken’s Mike Hamel warmed up the crowd with a collection of 90s-remniscent songs presented in one solo effort. That’s right…just him. It wouldn’t be very impressive, except Hamel isn’t just a singer/songwriter/guitarist. During the entire course of his show, Hamel played a custom made instrument combining the strings and sounds of bass guitar with that of an original six string. He could have stopped there. It would have been cool. Instead he one-upped himself with a tambourine he rested under his right foot and used as percussion. The dude is a one man show. That said, despite the immense amount of respect I have for his accomplishment of this feat, it feels like Hamel would have a bit more success with at least a little help on the instruments. Skilled at bass, guitar and tambourine, Hamel’s vocal accessibility suffers from his need to remain seated throughout the set. Though he did hit most notes, doing it all is putting him on the cusp of his voice for some of his more emotional, intense verses. Whether he makes that improvement sooner or later, he’s worth checking out. Potential talent is still talent.

It isn’t rare for a band to sound different in the studio than they do on stage. Of the eleventy-hundred billion shows I’ve been to, many of them have transformed from stage to studio and vice versa. Unfortunately, The Dazzling Dooms were the previous this weekend. Though I very much love their recorded work, I found their live performance to be somewhat lacking. They were very welcoming and even made me my own fancy press pass, but they don’t seem to have quite gotten their bearings as a band yet. While Leon’s voice is big and clear, Gerlach performed vocals for some of their pieces and didn’t quite deliver. As a group, the guys don’t play like three bandmates who mesh and listen to each other, and the live experience suffers as a result. With good production their sound is amazing, and it feels like when they become a solid unit and learn who is best where, their stage show will only improve. Until then, I’m staying tuned and remaining in the twitter loop.

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