Five men, three guitars, one bass, one drum. Such is the ratio of The Inclined Plane, the first band to play on the third night of the Elm City PopFest at Café Nine.
Three guitars may veer on the edge of excess but they were all too vital to the explosion of rhythm that emanated from the stage. Each guitarist was independent of the other, but still perfectly synchronized — all parts fit nicely to the rhythmic puzzle of each song. (I also did enjoy when they turned and played to each other, smiling and bobbing up and down, totally caught up in the bliss of playing together.) And the bass, though outnumbered, was prominent. The leader singer’s voice was plain, yet the cool ease at which he pushed out each word was touching.
Sidewalk Dave was one of the more instrumentally and lyrically poignant bands I have seen so far. As soon as they jumped onstage, their energy had immediately taken over, and it didn’t take long for the crowd to start dancing, some mouthing each song word for word. Dave belted out lyrics like a madman, narrative lyrics that were blunt, “I’m an artist / that makes me a bastard,” and in an odd sense, uniquely American.
The Reducers knew how to put on a show. The simplicity of the lyrics mixed with an upbeat tempo in their opener — “Yeah, Yeah, Alright, Come’on” — invoked feelings of nostalgia for the past: any one of any generation could have enjoyed their music. Everyone, of all ages raced to fill the open space in front of the stage to dance and sing-along. Even the quiet couple sitting at a table against the wall — him in his suit with the tie still tightened around his collar, her in business attire — were overcome by a feeling that had them up on their feet, racing to the dance floor to join the mix of those clad in leather jackets with crazy buttons and denim. That moment really summed up the experience.
Third night’s the charm.