Sunday, July 27, 2003

Datsuns '70s act is knockout

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

As they say, there is nothing new under the sun. This is certainly true of music. You'd have to look no further than three of Cincinnati's best bands - the Greenhornes, Thee Shams and Pearlene - to find examples of musical throwbacks celebrated as part of a new breed.Another group that fits this bill comes from a point on the opposite side of the globe. The Datsuns, from New Zealand, put on a fierce performance at the Southgate House Saturday night that recalled any number of 1970s bands, songs and styles.

Call the hour-plus concert "That '70s Show." The foursome boogied like Brownsville Station. They borrowed the meanest, fastest riffs from Deep Purple, ZZ Top and whoever else. They swung their guitars and dropped to their knees with the conviction of MC5.

And they looked the part, with long, stringy hair, bellbottoms, and emaciated physiques suggesting provisions of an apple a day split four ways.

There was not one part of the Datsuns' act that could be called original, yet it was easily one of the best shows of the year so far, and the crowd of 200 or so was thoroughly knocked out.

The show fell between the band's dates on the Ozzfest tour, and playing on bigger stages to bigger crowds had to have helped a club appearance. The set was tight, one fast-and-loud number after the next, never relenting. And guitarists Christian and Phil, as they are known, spared neither the wah-wah pedal nor the windmill action.

"Harmonic Generator" had the only nod to contemporary style, as lead singer Dolf put down his bass and the band went with a drum-and-guitar-only sound. Everything else was a full-blown jam, either contained in five-minute structures or, in the case of the sprawling encore selection, "Freeze Sucker," a 10-minute-plus freak-out.

A pair of local opening bands, Dixie Trash and Jackass, also worked the hard-rock aesthetic, each from its own angle.

Dixie Trash's set was literally in-your-face. Singer Jack Rouse left the stage on several occasions to do some nose-to-nose screaming at members of the audience, while the band put forth a mix of punk, garage and rockabilly.

Jackass' set began a half-hour before the scheduled time, so unfortunately most of the crowd missed the band's crunchy, hard-rock-radio-worthy stylings.


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