The Hue of Two – Rochester – The Bug Jar, NY – 2004-03-28

The Hue of Two
Where: Rochester – The Bug Jar, NY.

When: 2004-03-28

After being pleasantly surprised by North Carolina’s Kudzu Wish on the band’s latest album, I was looking forward to hearing how well the music would be carried over to a live setting. The band’s style, which blends punk, hardcore, garage, and rock, seemed perfectly suited to crowds of sweaty kids pointing fingers and shouting along, and it was energetic enough to clearly make for a live show. Although the band didn’t play for long, I can honestly say I was not disappointed.

And I was relieved not to miss Kudzu Wish at all, as a fifth band – I never did find out who – played before we got there and settled down with a pint of the Bug Jar’s Whorenet Brown Ale. The Hue of Two was just filling the stage with its six members: three guitarists, a bassist, drummer, and female singer with a tiny synth. I haven’t seen so much on the Bug Jar’s small stage, and as much as the local band filled the stage, the musicians filled the club, blasting out a guitar-driven blend of post-hardcore and edgy emo. Three singers, three guitars, a barrage of sound and rock: this was the kind of thing I would have killed for a few years ago. Although the band sounded loose on stage, the songs were undeniably strong, the musicians extremely talented, and I picked up one of the hand-packaged CD-Rs after their set. I also found out that a former writer was one of the guitarists. Small world, even for Rochester.

Pennsylvania’s Pilot Round the Sun was something of a let-down after the enthusiastic Hue of Two. The four-piece was finishing up a 32-day tour and looked pretty tired, perhaps less than enthused at the less-than-capacity crowd. And although the band rocked, the songs definitely didn’t do it for me. The friend I came with immediately compared them to the Toadies and Dishwalla, the kind of washed-out late-90s alt-rock that had a blink of a lifespan. I heard a bit of prog tendencies in the singer’s vocals (not to mention his Flock of Seagulls meets Anthony Michael Hall haircut). Still, the musicians were tight as hell, and they did what many other Bug Jar bands haven’t been able to do: they kept the crowd in their part of the room rather than losing the (admittedly mostly under-age) people to the bar. I was also impressed by the bassist’s energy, as he bounced around relentlessly throughout the set.

Kudzu Wish, though, definitely was the band of the night. I doubted the lead singer could do much when the drummer pushed his kit so far forward on the stage that the singer was left with about eight inches of space, but luckily space was not required. After the band’s first song – a cover of the Archers of Loaf’s “Web in Front” – they exploded into their brand of punked-out rock, and the singer lept into the crowd, singing his words directly into the face of surprised and bemused fans. These folks had energy, that’s for sure, and at one point three of the five members were on the floor in the crowd. The singer flailed away, bouncing off the walls, off the amps (which he climbed in one song), off the drumset, and off his fellow members. Brilliant.

The best part of Kudzu Wish’s music is the choruses, which are catchy enough with the strong sense of melody the band possesses to be instantly sing/shout-alongs. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn’t as into participation as I hoped, but it was fun to shout out the choruses. I can’t help but imagine a set in the band’s hometown, filled with avid fans, would be an experience not to be missed.

Unfortunately, in talking with the very nice folks from Kudzu Wish, I didn’t get a chance to hear much of local closers Seventh Head Division. I’ve heard that this band was extremely tight and earnest, and that was easy to pick up, even from the bar area. There was a lot of layering of the guitars, but enough of an emo/post-hardcore edge to convince me I’d like the band if I caught the entire show. What I did hear, however, was good stuff, if not as energetic as Kudzu Wish – but then, I haven’t seen many bands that are.