A really good show: Pike, at the Claddah in Newport


So, I’ve been playing Hookie from my usual haunts and friends for a while. But decided that I needed to get out on Saturday night.

Andy F. to the rescue. I discovered a couple of his friends were playing at the Claddah Irish pub, in Newport on the Levee, and of course he dragged me to see them. I am glad that he did so. The band, is called Pike, and have been floating around the local music scene for a few years.

Saturday 7/25/2009: They put on an interesting show, complete with fire breathers in the background. Quite Surreal. It started late, mainly due to the initial two bands in their line-up, but the wait was worth it.

The first band opening act was .. tepid – so much so that I forgot their name. With practice they could perhaps be quite good, they had a few decent songs, though the fact that they played the same Synth melody over and over in each song was annoying. The synth patch they used went well with their acoustic guitars. But the repetition was annoying. Also the singer didn’t project his voice well, perhaps due to the fact that he was sitting quite comfortably on a pub chair, instead of standing.

The second act were technically better musicians, but played cut-ups composed of a bunch of covers mixed up with some original materials, can’t recall the name of the band. Again, technically good musicians, their lead vocalist was quite good, their synths blended in well with the other instruments and the drummer rocked steady like clockwork. Their actual original songs, however, grew aggravating. Part thrash metal, part 70’s stadium rock, part melodic folk, and part undirected. The last two songs in the set, however, were quite moving. They seemed like High School buddies who stuck around playing for the fun of it. With a bit more direction I could picture myself listening to them.

And they had a good sax player.

The third act: finally, the band we came to see,  Pike. I am glad that I stuck around, because, well, Pike blew me away. I chalk up their set as the second best show I’ve seen since the last Severin show I saw at the old 9:30 club, (the REAL 9:30, on F Street ) somewhere around late 1992. And I have seen a lot of shows since then..

I’ve decided that I like Pike. A pity I have not heard of them prior to this show. I will buy one of their CD’s and catch future shows, because they play a groovy set indeed.

Pike gave an energetic live show. All of the band members are loaded with charisma. Their lead guitarist Andrea plays with a tight intricacy and has a warm pleasant stage presence. She played some of the most haunting riffs I’ve ever heard, and her back-up vocals moved me.

Their lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Kelly, also has a strong charismatic stage presence, and also exudes a quiet sexy air of constrained ferocity. Her voice ranged from sultry, to scratchy, to passionately fierce. The bassist, Wade, is one of the better bassists I’ve heard in a long time, you can tell a good bassist by how solidly their rhythm holds the band along, the sinews and muscles on the drums’ bones, but carries a subtle funky groove. Finally the drummer, Holly, pounded out passionate but very tight beats like a hurricane constrained and channeled.  She kicked ass on the skins.

Pike’s set was mostly original songs, tightly written and catchy. Not quite pop, their sound is far too harsh for pop, but these were old fashioned college station alt rock tunes with a swig of lighter fluid.

Pike’s sound? I can best described it as something between late 80s DC Hardcore, early 90’s alt rock, and e’er clichéd riot grrrl feme rock (L7, old Hole, etc.) but with a more melodic core. Think of the Breeders, but much better (yes, I like Pike better than the Breeders).  Someone at Citybeat called them “Alt Pop” – I don’t agree, they are harder edged. They don’t fit nicely in a genre. And this is good.

I thought you should know this things. Pike is a talented band, I suspect they may go places far outside of the Tri-State region. But if they do not, and simply remain a local treasure, they are a wonderful treasure – and if you have a chance to catch them live you should do so.

They have a good image, an image of the kind of quiet competent musicians who don’t have to “try too hard”, rather they come just as they are. They do not have a sort of uniform, each looks as if he or she arrived as they were, from life, onto stage. In other words, there was no stchick.

The band members are all aesthetically unique and striking individuals, in their own way. The lead singer in particular is exquisitely striking – one could call her hot, but not in a cheap commercial eye candy way, rather something more natural and elemental.  The drummer, Holly, has a look of a certain intensity.

It bears mentioning that all of them play their instruments really well. Which counts for something, because a lot of bands can’t. And they write good songs. And they seem dedicated to their band as a craft.

So go see them live, if you can, the next time they play.

Or catch the band on Myspace http://www.myspace.com/piketheband


Leave a Reply