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This Train Is Bound for Glory

Saturday night and I’m feeling all right, going to see some friends tonight. Off to the venerable Casbah for an evening of good times. There are not very many local bands who can tout that they have been able to sell out this venue, but there exists an inner circle. Two of those bands were booked together on back to back nights. Friday was not a sell-out, but Saturday was.

San Francisco quartet Music For Animals were on stage when I arrived playing their final tune. What I was most impressed by upon hearing their alt pop sounds was the bass player, Eli Meyskens’, christmas light lit white sport coat. That was the only thing that caught my attention. It seemed that they were pretty tight and well rehearsed from what i could tell. It was difficult not to notice the lead singer, Jayson Martinovich, and his uncanny resemblance to Joey Fatone from NSYNC which was distracting from their bland indie pop. The audience seemed to like them enough, though. Maybe I am a bit jaded. Well, I would give them another chance on their own local stage in the bay sometime if fate drew me there.

While waiting for the main event, some idle plucking on an acoustic guitar pulled me into the Atari Lounge in the back of The Casbah. This is also a clever place to grab a drink and avoid the crowd in the front room on a sold out evening. Porter kindly poured me a Cuba Libre and I proceeded to do my duty in freeing Cuba with a squeeze of lime. I glanced over to see a well-bearded fellow strumming his guitar sans bandmates. Ryan Pardey played his Gibson guitar with a subtleness that underlined his wavering voice. It started to feel like he was playing some classic americana, when he diverged on to a masochistic road with “Christmas Song”. Apparently, he recorded this track with famed San Diegans, Louis XIV, who also did a wonderful job on The Silent Comedy's most recent self titled E.P.

Ryan started singing, “This is your Christmas song about how everything went wrong last December, my lifestyle might be the cause . . .”. What songwriter has not lamented that very thought? Sometimes the thing that makes someone want you is eventually the reason they don’t. Ryan mentioned that his band somehow did not make it all the way from Vegas, but I was pleased he did. Check out Halloween Town and sample some of his serious and playful tunes. Next he asked us, “How about a love song?”. He proceeded to play a song he had composed after driving from Vegas at 3am that very morning. I would like to hear some of this with the full band, but I was pleased by his sensuality reminiscent of Art Garfunkel and Conor Oberst.

So I have labeled The Silent Comedy as being revival rock, not only because of the southern baptist sermon at the end of every show, but the way they have channeled Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin into their stage antics and fashionable garb. This is music to wake up your rhythm bone. There are religious undertones in many of these songs that implore you to take heed and question all that you know to be true. J. Benjamin’s opener, “Impossible Name” comes in with the first few rows chanting along, “They were wrong, that’s what I say!”. Then the rest of the band cleverly comes in to get the fans worked up. Has it ever been said that the mandolin can rock? Well, the way J. Michael plays beneath his loosely falling blonde hair and his fine mustaches sure puts the instrument in new perspective.

T. Brian plays a mean mouth harp on “Poison” blowing profusely with an accuracy denoting a prodigy. Everything was so seemingly effortless. Such soulful piano playing on “Bones” weaves a tale of some historical occurence and wrongdoing coming back to haunt the subject in his death throes. Next, J. John let loose on one of my favorite tracks from their new e.p., “Daisy”. I’ve been meaning to inquire as to the meaning of some of these lyrics, “Shake, shake Daisy, add some salt, add some salt and shake me up, break me Daisy . . .” This one stays in you while you carry through the rest of the evening.

Something strikes me as odd. It took me a couple of songs to realize that I. Forbes was not weilding his fiddle prowess, or is it violin? Will someone tell me what the difference is? Upon inquiring I learned he was on a brief hiatus. But nothing was about to hold these boys back. They were even playing with temporary and very talented Andy Ridley on percussion, formerly of Fono. Hey, I remember those guys. Andy is a tight backline in any situation.

Enough birdwalking, through “Carnival” and “’49”, the other bandmates regalled around J. Benjamin and shouted alternately at the crowd who responded in a varietous chorus of La-la-la-la-la-la and so forth. It was as if the Santa Ana winds had blown through this room as it’s heated and excited occupants writhed in time with every carnivalesque bop. The Beatles' tune, “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” was the surprise for me, a Comedy veteran. They reeled it off without a hitch.

The show closed with their now famous revival sermon where J. John pulls the enrapt audience in a tighter circle chanting, “This train is bound for glory, this train!” and a nearly routous rendition of “When The Saints Come Marching In”. The show is over, some of us are changed by this experience, but I am just hungry for the next time. I am even too exhausted to see Transfer take the stage in all their glory. Some other time, Cooper. Good evening and good night.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-232-4355
  • Name: The Silent Comedy
  • Address: 2501 Kettner Blvd.