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Electroshockbox, Loveland, Cameron Johnson, Not Right Now

Club Congress, Saturday, April 2

Sometime Friday, Mormon Minnesota minimalists Low cancelled their Saturday show at Club Congress due to illness, but the band-bookers at the club feared not; local musicians are attracted to a suddenly empty Congress stage like failing high school students to extra-credit, so the last-minute lineup ended up being a sort of local grab bag. Darrell Hall of Liberty School's new project, Not Right Now; old-style electric guitar player Cameron Johnson; and tongue-in-cheek techno DJ Electroshockbox joined Loveland, creating a thrown-together show that had a, well, thrown-together feel.

Not Right Now was not very interesting. The set sounded almost like a practice session; a keyboard that was too heavy on the low end and a barely played guitar really didn't bring many people through the doors, despite the lack of a cover charge. Cameron Johnson, who played traditional folk and country songs like "Freight Train" on his electric guitar, sat on the stage in his cowboy hat and boots and sang for the few folks sitting at the tables in front of the stage. It was exactly as if my dad was onstage.

Loveland, the only band on the original bill, played their brand of traditional country and Western next. The lead singer sits on a stool and swigs beer, flanked by two guitarists, and backed by Tasha Bundy on drums, and he sounds like what would happen if you took the Okie out of Merle Haggard: kind of a subdued Hank Williams. Loveland would have been an interesting pairing with Low, who can be equally subdued.

And then Electroshockbox (which is just one guy) began setting up his Mac laptop and various DJ accoutrements, which included a one-legged rooster. Holding headphones to his ears, he said, "I wanna give it up for Loveland! I am nothing like that!" and then proceeded to push buttons which made catchy drum, bass and synth sounds pulse loudly from the speakers. It was hilarious: serious-sounding dance music with not-so serious lyrics delivered by a pudgy white dude with delicious irony. Electroshockbox overcompensated for the dreary quietude of the other musicians in terms of energy and volume; it's hard to dance when you have to plug your ears to avoid intense pain.

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