Monday, September 22, 2003

Danes reconstruct punk into rock 'n' roll rave-up

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It was a crazy feeling. It got me reeling. I'm speaking of the Raveonettes concert at the Southgate House, a time-warping rock 'n' roll affair to remember.

The Danish band earned the media hype and its word-of-mouth buzz, shamelessly utilizing late '50s and early '60s influences and shooting them through a filter of post-punk drone in an hour-long set as fun and rocking as any other this town has recently seen.

The influences start with a band name derived from a Buddy Holly classic title and carried forward with a reconstructed Eddie Cochran cover nobody in the room of 350 onlookers would have caught had main Raveonette Sune Rose Wagner not introduced it.

There were also a good dozen Phil Spector-style teen symphonies - complete with names like "Heartbreak Stroll," "That Great Love Sound," "Beat City" and "Do You Believe Her" - awash in the symphonic drone of the Jesus and Mary Chain.

But unlike the other contemporary band most often compared to Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Raveonettes use the influence as a component to their sound instead of the basis for everything they do.

Moreover, the Raveonettes can play like crazy. At least, the hired-on Raveonettes can.

The band consists of Wagner on guitar and vocals and bassist-vocalist Sharin Foo. For the tour, they brought along a pair of fellow Danes, guitarist Manoj Ramdas and drummer Jakob Hoyer.

Ramdas was a beast, wiping out legions of current garage-rock guitarists with his readymade rockabilly riffs and his punk-and-drone maneuvering.

The 21-song set sounded like a post-modern version of a Holly or Cochran best-of collection. It could make up a Raveonettes best-of right now, if the band wasn't so brand new. Their version of Cochran's "C'mon Everybody" - spaced-out and revival-rocking at once - epitomized the night's performance.

Rave on, Raveonettes.

Two opening bands played with the energy as the Raveonettes but lacked the inventive spark.

New York's Stellastarr* was led by a vocalist prone to the same histrionic vocal flights and tones as the Cure's Robert Smith, and Los Angeles' Kittens for Christian had more of a vague '80s influence.



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