March 13, 2004
Roxy Theatre - Atlanta, GA


Second Shift

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Tonight, local band Second Shift were in the tough position of being dumped last minute on to a high pressure and profile gig opening for 3 successful, world touring bands. No worries. They pulled it off just fine. Songs like “Bethany” and “Gun Of A Son” walked a fine line between The Strokes and Stone Temple Pilots. Somehow, this disparate combination worked perfectly. Vocalist Jonathan Baker was like the love child from that infamous encounter with David Bowie and Mick Jagger and the rest of the band was charismatic as well. The early set nerves eased fast and by their last song, it was clear that these guys will be a force to be reckoned with…and soon.

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The Living End were the odd boys on the bill. An intriguing amalgam of The Stray Cats and The Clash, the 3-piece dashed through a lightning paced set of tunes from all of their under heard in the U.S. albums. “Prisoner Of Society”, “Tabloid Magazine” and “All Torn Down” were fast and furious. That trio was only topped by the instrumental rockabilly of “E Boogie.” They closed out their too short set by managing to get the crowd singing along to “Second Solution.”

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The Living End

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Jet delivered it all. While their album can’t cut it next to The Vines’, they crushed ‘em in back to back performances. Sure it’s all derived from The Faces, Stones and AC / DC but they do it with such conviction that you can’t really fault them. It seems real and to me, close to real is as good as it gets right now. Opening with “Cold Hard Bitch” and not letting up for the duration, there was an attitude permeating the room that felt timeless and larger than life. Of course, with punkish rock like “Take It Or Leave It” and the huge hit “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” to lean on, the attitude was the easy part. A surprising cover of Elvis Presley’s “That’s Alright, Mama” showed Jet’s willingness to acknowledge the debt they owe to everyone they’ve borrowed (okay, stolen) from to get their sound. Jet are one of the best rock bands on the road right now. Don’t listen to those who put them down but haven’t even experienced a show. Jet rocks.

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So what’s Vines’ front man Craig Nicholls’ problem anyway? He’s made two of the best and most diverse rock albums of the current, so-called rock revival. Not to mention that he can afford to keep his demons on his side (instead of his back) for the moment. Why then, are Vines concerts like watching a petulant 4-year old demanding that his parents buy him a new toy? We were barely 3 songs into it before he berated the “shit” venue and security while gazing down at his shoes. The song selection was great, leaning heavily on the strong new Winning Days, but Nicholls spent more time howling like a wounded Chihuahua than trying to do anything that passed as effort. This is not unusual. It’s like this at every Vines show. If you like them, you know it and accept that it’s never going to be as good as it should be. You go to a Vines show to watch Craig’s nightly meltdown. Beautiful album cuts like “Winning Days” and “Autumn Shade II” were only slightly marred by the whining delivery while the schizophrenic freak out of “TV Pro” fared just fine. Of course, “Get Free” and “Outtathaway” were post-Nirvana slices of inexcusable angst and, as such, were fun in the live setting. While the other guys in the band simply blended into the reds and blues of the lighting, Nicholls alternately flailed and rooted himself. For the encore, the singer broke the apathy of the other members by flinging himself full bore into the drum kit during “Fuck The World.” Obviously used to the nightly acting out, drummer Hamish Rosser just stood up and got back as far as he could while the golden goose tossed drums all over the stage before losing his balance and collapsing off the riser. By this time, the feedback was awash over the enabling audience and the other members of The Vines had exited the stage. If you want to hear The Vines, stick to the records. If you want to be a part of the inevitable break down, come on to the rock show next time. That is, if they make it back before the big collapse!


The Vines

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