Review by Ron Hromoko (Switch to

new new. now dig this..
 surf talks
 fix your gaze
 black and white 
 unloved children
 love in action
 hammer in my heart
 hit me like a train
 worldwide epiphany

SET TWO: i saw the light influenza can we still it wouldn't have made fidelity never never land love is the answer born to synthesize i'm so proud baby baby i want you espresso dream goes on forever

SET ONE: from left to right: ferenzik, prince, kas, TR, gress. everyone stands, three guitars, no keys. prince's kit is small and compact to fit on the stage in front of the cloaked Twist backdrop. no gimmicks or outfits, other than a stylish influence indicative of each player. TR wears black long sleeve shirt and black jeans. WaT shades.

the boys don't come on until 9:40pm. 'surf' is a great surprise, as the band is digging it, playing hard and loud, but the mix is sparse and TR's vocal is way down in the mix. lots of interesting guitar 'emulation' sounds.

'fix' rocks. the crowd flashes back to one step beyond, and the band falls back on it's familiarity with the toon. but, a lot of intra-band glances and off-mic yelling on stage help maintain a barely-cohesive groove. prairie goofs the ending.

'B&W' is 'something we presume to know' and sounds more confident than the other 2 openers. the mix still sounds way sparse.

'drive' is another jaw-dropping surprise. good, rehearsed harmonies reminds me i've never heard a full band version. the middle guitar- drum tradeoff interval is expectantly awkward. great, great stuff.

'unloved' is thin and loud, like at the presidio benefit three years ago. ferenzik is supposed to be playing the keyboard parts with his guitar, but is having severe problems. on-stage tech problems leaves TR with his hands on his hips as jesse handles the solo-proper, then TR takes over for the extended Second Wind version solo-break bonus.

'love in action' is executed more simply than 'unloved', including an extended silence "can't-stop" break after the solo a la nearly human tour. "sometimes you *need* to stop." BHH!

'hammer' is a tad slower and louder than usual. kas plays this [and everything else] better than tagg, but nowhere near the jack bruce zone. this is prolly the tightest toon thus far.

'train' is satisfying to hear, but lagging without the B3. TR is not without pain as he tries to hit all the vocal peaks.

'trapped'. i don't remember much, but this was reeeeally cool. kas kicks ass and carries the toon, as he does the rest of the set.

'wwe' is of the individualist flavor. kas is still feeling his way through this and some other toons, and works the gum intensely on this one.

intermission was a short break and a 30 minute performance from a female singer who has opened for TR before at slim's. she and her pianist finish and the crew unveils the twisted tiki set. no bar or stage tables. strictly the backdrop, framing tiki statues and some leftover bar photos on the thatched walls.

SET TWO doesn't start until 11:45pm. the crowd is spent from set one and an additional hour break. we need something to get us going again. the band starts with slower versions of 'i saw the light' and 'influenza' which sound good. they are more melodic and controlled than the 'schlock rock' of the opening band. mary lou deilvers a gibson personally between toons in lieu of no bar or bartender.

as the set continues with 'can we', 'iwhmad', 'fidelity', & 'nnl', the pace slows to a crawl, with breaks between toons aproaching minutes. the band tires, and so does the crowd. changes get sloppy and tempos loosen to unhealthy levels.

'born to synthesize' shows signs of life as the crowd gets a second wind enjoying the jazz walk, but quickly erodes into another weeknight trance when we're put to sleep with 'i'm so proud/baby baby'.

first shows can be fun because so many things can go wrong. first shows can also be bad because so many things go wrong. the advantage is the unknown.. the toon[s] you may not expect or even think would be played. that payoff came in set one in a big way. and, i'm looking forward to subsequent shows when the band is tighter and the sound system works correctly.

i just don't understand why bossa nova set two wasn't played first. this worked on WaT, and would work even better with this two-set show. give us the payoff after the warm up. don't put us to sleep.

is ricky martin all the village people rolled into one? romo

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6/8/1999 - Slim's - San Francisco, CA

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