Originally published in the Brandeis University Justice
Sept. 6, 2011
Brandeis’ Punk, Rock n’ Roll Club knew how to start the year off right. The first show of the semester featured performances by up-and-coming indie-pop band Miniature Tigers and bizarre faux-Christian rock duo Lawrence Welks.
Headliner Miniature Tigers were very well received by the audience at Cholmondeley’s on Saturday night. The Brooklyn-based quartet, originally from Phoenix has only two albums to its name—2008’s Tell it to the Volcano and 2010’s F O R T R E S S—but their star is rising fast. They have been touring throughout the country and will play at several upcoming music festivals in the next few months, including Austin City Limits, POPPED! and South by Southwest.
The band started off its set with a few of their slower, more thoughtful tunes. Singer Charlie Brand’s lyrics mixed obscure pop culture references to TV shows like Lost with more relatable sentaments about coming out of a bad breakup. Brand’s falsetto on the choruses of several songs combined with drummer Rickie Schaier’s and bassist Alex Gerber’s thumping beats along with keyboardist Algernon Quashie’s flitting melodies created a light, fast sound perfect for a summer party.
Miniature Tigers’ newest song, “Boomerang,” was the track most well known by the audience despite the fact that it has not yet been released on a CD. This is a testament to the band’s presence online. Most of the showgoers that I spoke to had listened to Miniature Tigers’ songs on the Internet rather than paying for their albums.
It was clear that the band was having fun on stage. The show, despite having started with slower tunes, quickly evolved into a fun and high-powered dance party. Brand excitedly remarked several times that the Chum’s crowd was a great audience. He expressed this physically by jumping off stage and singing directly to one student who was celebrating his birthday on Saturday night. The crowd responded with cheers and even more vigorous dance moves.
Saturday’s opening act, Lawrence Welks, had as opposite a musical feel to Miniature Tigers as any band you could find. The duo, originally from Burlington, Vt., opened their set by asking the audience if they believed in God and then placing a small picture of Jesus on one of their amps, proclaiming, “He is our God.” Then the music started.
Both guitarist AndreWelks and keyboardist Jonny Geetar performed their screeching, out-of-tune vocals on the first several songs–or psalms, if you will. For their entire 40-minute set, LawrenceWelks sang Christian psalms accompanied by guitar, keyboard and synthesizer, though no discernable tune could be made out. In between numbers, the band asked the audience if they “knew God” and commented on His glory. At one point, Geeter preached, “All of God’s creatures are beautiful. Like, have you ever looked closely at a walnut?”
The act was meant to be taken ironically, and both band members were about as hipster as they come. AndreWelks sported a Freddy Mercury-style mustache and wore only jeans and a leather vest, while Geeter wore glasses big enough to have been ordered from the 1980s and a sleeveless Bob Marley T-shirt. Incredibly, the band didn’t break character for the entire show. They didn’t even crack a smile while hawking their posters, which proclaim “Obama sin Laden,” a reference to the fact that if you switch the “b” and the “s” in the name Osama bin Laden, a message appears describing the moral character of our president.
The act was funny in a bizarre, “What is going on?” sort of way, but it got old pretty quickly. A fair portion of the audience exited after each break in the music until only about 15 or 20 people were left for the final psalm, only returning when Miniature Tigers took the stage. It was easy to understand why many chose not to stick around. The Deli, a blog about local indie music, wrote that LawrenceWelks has “enough cynicism and who-gives-a-shit attitude to alienate or flat-out terrify most from their sound,” and that the band sounds like “broken vocal chords and choked keyboards dying in a fire.”
I don’t know if I would go that far. I do agree that Lawrence Welks has little discernable musical talent, but, for certain people, that’s part of their appeal. They’re bad, and that’s what makes them funny—that and spreading the Good Word, of course.