Maybe it was the holiday or maybe it was summer break, but there were only about 20 people at the show. Most of them seemed to know the bands fairly well. I didn't know either of them. I just came because I had a free evening and the genre was listed as psychedelic in Hodi's email. With fireworks in the air, that seemed like a good match.
Action Friend's songs all seem to be constructed as more or less random medleys of song snippets. These snippets come from all over the map: jazzy, jammy, Zappa-esque experimentalism, metal thrash, or just noise. Each snippet tends to last a minute or less. I couldn't make much sense of how they were combined except that the pieces were generally assembled to emphasize contrast. A given song might switch back and forth between a couple of bits or just progress through a series of them.
The band is very tight in their coordination between the song sections. They turn on a microdot, navigating the changes in rhythm, key, and style with apparent ease. This technical adeptness carries over into the snippets themselves. Some of these are loose and dreamy, some require great speed and dexterity, others run through some complicated jazz chords. I have a lot of respect for their musical ability. Many of the parts would have been great to hear as songs in their own right. Unfortunately, the moments were too short and the changes were too random for me. I can hear influences of John Zorn's Naked City band, but Action Friend's version feels less coherent.
Sex Glove was more punk. Elements of the Dead Kennedys, Bauhaus, and Devo surfaced at different points, but this was much more accessible than the opener. Sex Glove can still be edgy, they just aren't random.
In the first song, the lead singer confronted the mike with manic punk energy. The second song had a cool descending section that reminded me of Bauhaus, complete with Peter Murphy style vocals. This vocal versatility is a major asset for the band. Beyond that, the other guys certainly pulled their weight. The bass player provided a good punk stage presence, but he was also fairly versatile, shifting from thrash to more melodic playing. The drums were steady, especially on the more driving rock bits. And the guitarist had a good range, from metal through garage band psychedelia to some spacey edgy bits. The keys weren't always strong in the mix, but they still added a lot of texture, especially a Devo-style riff on one of the songs.
The biggest problem with the band is that they played a relatively short set. They left the crowd calling out for more as they claimed not to have any other songs. They also didn't have any recordings for sale. They've got a couple songs on their MySpace page, which I recognized from the show, but that seems to be the limit of their recording.
For Action Friend, I'd recommend a Suicide (a drink with a sampling of everything), but for Sex Glove, a Vodka Red Bull would be nice.
More photos on my Flickr.