By NATHAN BEMIS
Fredericksburg All Ages celebrated its fourth anniversary last Saturday with a solid offering at Eyeclopes Studios, showcasing Tereu Tereu, Imperial China and, as advertised on the rock next to Woodard Hall, the Like Whatevers.
The show started out strong, with Tereu Tereu busting eardrums in simple, classic, one-guitar, one-bass style. They had a distinctly garage-rock sound, nothing too fancy, but what they may have lacked in innovation, they made up for it in pure ability as musicians.
They played easily the most enjoyable set out of the three bands, with catchy riffs and fun, witty lyrics delivered in Ryan Little’s signature style, all performed with a certain energy that made it hard for one not to just smile and bob their head.
Imperial China was a bit of a different story. An obviously talented three-piece group from DC, Imperial China often used experimental rhythms and styles of play during their set. Some of these gambits paid off, like the decision during one song to have two out of three of the band’s members play drums, making for a compelling, if unorthodox sound.
Another track was purely instrumental, showing off the main guitarist’s considerable talent at creating ambient, relaxing soundscapes. Other times, the band wandered into the territory of pure, squalid noise, guitars crashing and vocals moaning, all at a skull-breaking volume. For all their unpredictability, however, Imperial China did consistently demonstrate one quality: potential.
Every second they played, even the ones that could conceivably make a man’s ears bleed, showed that they were onto something big, but it just needed some refinement before it could reach the masses.
The Like Whatevers are an interesting bunch. A seven-piece band containing a bass, two guitars (or one guitar and a fiddle on one track), two vocalists, one of whom played keyboard, a drummer, and, to top it off, a flutist, the Like Whatevers had a complex, yet still orderly sound reminiscent of a somewhat folkier version of Broken Social Scene. It was altogether an entertaining set, but it had a few flaws.
First, the flute went completely unheard throughout the show. It felt like the audience got a little cheated out of something new and different, to see this girl onstage, playing flute along with two electric guitars, but never hearing it. Second, the male vocalist needs to learn to use his inside voice. The other vocalist, a girl who sang very melodiously when she could be heard, was usually all but drowned out by the sheer volume of his voice.
Otherwise, however, the Like Whatevers put up a solid set, leaving the audience with, if not blown minds, at least contented smiles.