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Issue 140 141 Live revu - MONTE CARLOS, THE GOLDBUGS, BIG MEDICINE

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Saturday February 20, 2016 The Social Room, Columbia

To say this was going to be a pleasant surprise is an understatement. After a year that so far found me getting laid off from my second job and later had hours drastically cut from my main paying job I needed a reason to step away from the here and now for a bit. Learning that the Goldbugs were having a reunion show that would release a long recorded CD was an interesting turn of events and a show that I definitely wanted to check out. So, as the winter weather thawed out a little bit (though it's still chilly as hell) I headed out of the sticks to Columbia for this show over at the Social Room.

Big Medicine had the task of starting the night off. Facing the small stage the best they could the band offered up a set of roots rock and country that combined known songs with a new song or two. The band's fusion of tight rhythms with clean and bittersweet guitars did get things off to a good start. However, there were some flubbed parts on a couple of songs as well as having to play with fewer amps than usual having an impact on the sound. I will say though that while the band did stumble they didn't disappoint the longtime fans who made it in time to see them. Big Medicine put on a good, if slightly ragged, show that made the stumbles of the set minor hindrances rather than deal breakers for those who paid attention.

Since this was billed as a Goldbugs reunion show it was curious when the Goldbugs set up to play the middle slot of the three band bill. Together for the first time in years, the band's rootsy power pop rock went off in fine fashion with bittersweet toned guitars, in the pocket melodies, and tight hook laden songs throughout. Walking a fine line between older material and tracks from the just released CD, the band performed as if they never disbanded and were still doing gigs all this time. While not 100% perfect (I believe they had a week or so to rehearse before this gig) The Goldbugs did manage to pull off a catchy enjoyable live show after what seemed to be too long in hibernation.

After a brief period of the typical band tear down and setting up it was time for Monte Carlos to bring the night on home. The local trio has changed drummers since I'd last seen them but the band performed a set of tight concise rock'n'roll songs fueled by crunchy guitar and melodic hooks. However, one big change in the band was a move form vintage hard rock swagger to a more 90s alt rock vibe. While the songs sounded good the shift did take off a bit of the edge that cut through their sound previously. It's not a deal breaker (and I admit it's been a long time since I'd seen them play) but it did take me by surprise. Monte Carlos did put on a good show regardless and brought the night to a close in a good way.

After the show I took note of something that I noticed earlier (both this evening and when I saw the Independents here a few months back). The Social Room seems to have two crowds at once. Half the crowd seems to be there for the music and into the bands and artists playing on stage. The other half are there because it's someplace to go. It's interesting and a little bizarre.

After the show there was the usual milling about. A friend of mine was doing sound for the show so I waited for him to get his work done and just took in the atmosphere. Eventually it was time to head on out. My friend and I got breakfast and hung out for a bit after the show but the night was slowly coming to a close. Yes, it didn't completely get me away from my hassles but it did give me a good break from the mess. It was a good night indeed.

- Boone

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