Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Pete Yorn: Nothing to sing about

By Chris Varias
Enquirer contributor

        Pete Yawn. That's just one guy's opinion of the Pete Yorn show at Bogart's Sunday night, one guy amid a near-sellout crowd of adoring fans hanging on the mopey singer's every word.

        Now and again a singer-songwriter comes along whom the music press falls over itself praising. Usually, he or she is overrated. Mr. Yorn is no exception, judging not only by his major-label debut snooze-fest musicforthemorningafter, but now also by his dull-as-dirt hour-and-20-minute performance.

        There is one thing nice to say. Mr. Yorn's four-man band was decent and showed a lot more enthusiasm for performing than the self-consciously lackluster bandleader. But the music was one-dimensional: the group worked a straight and steady midtempo rock rhythm with plenty of hooks but no muscle. It sort of had a vague Brit-pop feel, topped off by Mr. Yorn's slacker-style mumbling vocals.

        The formula grew old quickly, and the only moments of relief came during a spirited cover of Iggy Pop and David Bowie's “China Girl” and a couple of songs that sounded just like the rest but were played slower. (Also, the sound mix was miserable, even by Bogart's standards. Somebody probably should have nudged the sound guy and told him to turn up the bass guitar a teeny bit.)

        “Life on a Chain” is Mr. Yorn's big hit, but the performance of it and the crowd's reaction to it didn't distinguish the song from any of the others. Each song received the same loud cheers, and “Life on a Chain” sounded no better or worse than anything else. Why, then, was it chosen as Mr. Yorn's single? Probably because its lyrics are the least ridiculous of all his songs, despite awful lines like, “I hadn't time to regret you.”

        Boy, I wish I hadn't a ticket to this show.

        Knoxville, Tenn.'s, Superdrag opened with a 45-minute set of its brand of Big Star-style pop-rock. They played a few songs from Last Call for Vitriol, a new album scheduled for a July 9 release. Of the new stuff they played, “Baby Goes to Eleven,” with a guitar intro borrowed from the Who, sounded like Guided By Voices (GBV's Bob Pollard sings on the album track), and “The Staggering Genius” had a strong Foo Fighters feel.


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