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Indie, Electric, Emo, Oh My!

How keyboards, or lack thereof, make Milwaukee, Cassettes, Tokyo, and Black famous.

What Made Milwaukee Famous don’t yet live up to the adjective intheir name, but if the indie rock outfit from Austin, Texas make itbig, they can likely credit the work of keyboardist Drew Patrizi. Attheir Bowery Ballroom show, Patrizi’s chord-banging, which alonewouldn’t be out of place in a Mario Brothers video game, gave theband’s sound a playful texture — separating the rhythm lines of theguitar, bass, and drums — and accented Michael Kingcaid’s croon.

Theadvantage of having a keyboard on stage was also apparent for CassettesWon’t Listen, the one-man electro-rock project of Jason Drake.Performing at BLVD, Drake sang and played both guitar and piano. Healso alternated between setting up beats on his computer to spinningeverything from music to voicemails. Keyboard-driven numbers like”Cutting Balloons” were the most energetic, as if the Books decided tolet loose and rock out.

But the harder the rocking, the fewerthe keyboards. With amps cranked up to 11, New Jersey’s Tokyo Rose tookthe stage at Arlene’s Grocery and played cohesive emo guitar rock inthe vein of Jimmy Eat World and the Get Up Kids. The bassist and twoguitar players all had the same shiny black hair with stylized bangsthat drooped over their eyes; the sounds of their instruments blendedtogether with a similar absence of individualism.

The membersof St. Louis-based Blinded Black, who opened for Tokyo Rose, stuckaround to see one of their idols perform. During their own set, theyjoked that they weren’t old enough to be playing in a bar; Chuck Kraus,the band’s eldest member, turned 21 last week, and drummer JakeRohlmann is only 18. They watched Tokyo Rose with aspiration-filledeyes and Kraus even lip-synched to “Goodbye Almond Eyes.” JAKE TRACER / PHOTO MIA BERG

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