The days and weeks after a SongwritingWith:Soldiers retreat can be a difficult time…
- Posted on Jul 10th 2010 11:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
"I want to thank the people that really made this happen," he said. "The babysitters of the greater New York City area."
Indeed, the sold-out club was teeming with aging hipsters, 40-somethings who likely discovered Teen Beat in high school or college. Many resembled trim label founder Mark Robinson, who performed twice Friday, first with the electro-tinged pop duo Cotton Candy, his most recent musical project, and later with Unrest, the group he created at the same time as the label and which disbanded a decade later.
Over the years, Unrest went through numerous incarnations, and the version playing this summer's reunion shows is the classic early '90s lineup: Robinson on guitar, Bridget Cross on bass and Phil Krauth, a classmate of Robinson's at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, on drums. The trio performed songs from 1992's 'Imperial f.f.r.r' and 1993's 'Perfect Teeth,' collections now seen as indie pop classics.
The band is known for terse, trebly, up-tempo pop songs, and on such standouts as 'Cath Carroll' and 'Suki,' Robinson drove the music with a manic rubber-wrist strum. Krauth kept pace on his hi-hats, and Cross, who took turns with Robinson singing lead, played jog-along bass lines, simple and effective.
Unrest slowed down for a handful of acoustic numbers, among them the mournful 'Soon It Is Going to Rain,' in which Robinson sings of melting ice cream and even messier emotions. The closing 'Make Out Club' is as confused a love song, but the band's frenetic playing captured the thrill of young lust, ending the night with more of an exclamation point than a question mark.
Also on hand for Friday's bash was New York City's own Versus, a recently reunited quintet that uses two guitars and a violin to explore indie pop's outer reaches. Fellow openers the Rondelles, by contrast, play scrappy, straightforward punk with a '60s bubblegum bent. The Washington, D.C. trio is back together after an eight-year break and Friday night, its members were honest about their rustiness, striking from the set list songs they couldn't remember how to play.
"Let me show you what we skipped," singer and guitarist Juliette Swango, Teen Beat's answer to Joan Jett, said toward the end of the set, to which one fan cleverly responded, "Rehearsal!"