During Trend Velocity's sound check at The Hut Monday night, singer Derek Espadas cut a song short, saying, "Sorry, we forgot to turn off the suck button."
But after that, the suck button was definitely off for the rest of the night--at least for the four bands I was able to see. (I was unable to see was Gaza Strip.)
Overs and 20s, a local acoustic duo comprising Mark Rodriguez on guitar and the excellent Kelsey McCollum on vocals, sang pretty pop songs. Next was singer-songwriter Brian Denham, who sounded a bit like Tracy Chapman--an impressive accomplishment for a little white guy from Flagstaff who has only been playing guitar for a year and a half.
Locals Trend Velocity came back on stage after Denham and conjured up the ghost of Jim Morrison, and then Oakland's Hot Toddies got things really going. The all-girl four-piece pleaded with the audience to come ever closer while playing doo-wop and bubblegum pop songs. The girls switched instruments around ("We like to share," explained singer Erin) and had everyone in the bar enraptured--they were just so damn cute.
The first song went from a slow, walking bass-line swagger to a pulsing dance beat flawlessly, and the Chipmunk-like, Beach Boys-inspired vocal harmonies made the songs even cuter, even as they sang about sex: "Let me take you for a ride, you might get laid," sang Erin and Heidi on "Jaguar Love," and, of course, the audience hollered when they sang the chorus of "Seattle": "I get so horny when I'm in Seattle." "Geneva" featured "teenage Swiss boys goin' down the water slide, butt cheeks in the air," and then things got a little more scientific with "Photosynthesis."
The Hot Toddies were generous with the cowbell and catchy rhythms and melodies, and at times induced pangs of nostalgia for Anna Waronker and the Haden sisters' old band, that dog. The last song, "Motorscooter," was about a dance by the same name--"You lead with your butt," explained Erin. Toward the end of the song, the keyboard player, Jessica, jumped off the stage to help demonstrate the move with a friend of the band, and the "yeah, yeah, yeah"s in two-part harmony left the audience wanting more. Next time they come through town, hopefully they'll be able to give us that encore.