Hail Britannia: Episode Two

Thursday Night

Hail Britannia: Episode Two

The Royal We have been invited to an indie party so geographically obscure that our local rock star companion insists we pull over to buy a map from the Circle K. Eternally in search of a Spoon set, we have temporarily abandoned the Brits-only edict, but the decision has made us fussy. Late and irritable, we happen upon the house of Meat Purveyors bassist Cherilyn Dimonde, where an overflowing front yard enraptured by some alt-country duo suggests we've found the wrong party. However, we spot Spoon fave Bob Pollard of Guided by Voices and recognize that his music sounds British, so he's good for a chat. Britt Daniel will, as always, keep us waiting, but the Ranchero Brothers turn out to be the Old 97's in disguise, so we edge up front with the always glamorous lead singer of the Shindigs, who, too, can spot a dreamy lead singer. Soon the rain spoils the party as Daniel refuses to risk his life for the sake of the Rock. We dash out, noting that Janeane Garofalo waits for a ride in the street. (And for the record, she's skinny as hell, so where these body issues come from is a mystery.) A party for all British bands beckons at Iron Works, so the rock star is dumped as we head like a giddy kid to the candy store. Sadly the party bombs, hosted by an overzealous elf in bad sideburns who enthuses for a group of might-as-well-be-American-crap-bands. Much as we hate to sound like a broken record, the night is narrowly saved by the smug, humorous and half-assed High Fidelity, who afford the gig the disrespect it deserves, and the wee Astrid boys, whose beautiful youth propels them through two songs like it was their encore at Wembley. Though the disappointment is great, the night is young, and the best British band in town is playing at the Electric Lounge. Cotton Mather packs the club to capacity, thanks to the blessing of the Gallagher brothers. They segue from song to song without a break, obviously geared up for next week's opening gigs with Oasis in Europe. Tight trousers, flawless harmonies, gear songs -- sometimes one finds Brits in the funniest places. Oh, Toto, there's no place like home.

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