BD Riley's, Friday, March 14 It's always something of a crapshoot playing a bar you've never been to before. You don't know what they serve, you don't know if they'll serve you, and you sure as hell don't know what the acoustics are like or who's running the soundboard. Austin's Canoe, luckily, draws quick comparisons to their namesake -- they're sturdy and rough-hewed, able to float when necessary, and capable of delivering a sound thrashing when and if it's called for. Canoe's lack of bass and the addition of pop-scrank keyboards put them in line with the best of NYC's class of 1978. Part Gang of Four, part aggro-crunch, they manhandle chords sans the deep end, relying instead on some of the most pummeling drumming this side of Austin's Agony Column. Tough luck there were only 30 or so people in the joint; with Cat Power set to hit the stage down the street and Grandaddy on the other side, Canoe, pummel-pop intact, seemed poised for if not greatness, at least something this side of revelation. There's nothing wrong with the sort of loud, melodic pop songs that Canoe specializes in. It's just a shame that the crowd was only half there and half elsewhere.
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