(Check out the photo above and 10 others from the show at Frequency’s Flickr photo pool. You can also get to it through that little widget on the right side of the blog. Got photos of music being made in Central Oregon? Add them to the pool!)
If a band rocks a dive bar and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?
That’s the question about the set The High Strung played at Players Bar & Grill on Friday night.
It’d be inaccurate to say that no one was there, of course. Throughout the Detroit trio’s set, the crowd dwindled from about three dozen to 15 or so folks, and that included me, the bar’s staff, and members of opening act No Cash Value. (I showed up just in time to catch No Cash do a couple catchy punk numbers, ending their set with a cover of the Misfits’ “Skulls.” They sounded great, and I made a mental note to make sure I see more of them soon.)
And truth be told, it’d probably be inaccurate to say The High Strung rocked the bar. It was more like a jostling. That said, the band performed about as well as you could expect, considering they were playing for so few people.
When The High Strung took the stage, frontman Josh Malerman proposed to his band mates a half-hour set. They ran over that by half, and this band can fit a lot of music into 45 minutes. Malerman and company delivered three-minute pop gems fast and furious, breaking only to decide what to play next.
The High Strung’s sound is pure pop filtered through a prism of garage grit, like The Who playing Beatles songs. Malerman is the ringleader and drummer Derek Berk is a beast behind the kit, but it’s bassist Chad Stocker who’s most fun to watch; his flailing and headbanging didn’t seem dampened by the small audience.
Those who stuck it out seemed appreciative. Scattered hoots and hollers and claps followed each song, and The High Strung stayed relentlessly positive, complimenting No Cash Value and saying how stoked they were to play a new town. (The band played for kids at the Bend Public Library in 2006, but this was their first club show here.)
Near the end of their set, Stocker stopped to pimp the stuff for sale at the band’s merch table, and an onlooker yelled (I’m paraphrasing here) “Less banter with the crowd!” (even though there really hadn’t been that much). Without missing a beat, Stocker replied: “We’re doing our usual amount of banter, there’s just fewer people.”