by Josh Gross
Somewhere online, someone said The Hand was the best new band in Boise. And for once, someone was not just blowing smoke up the Internet's ass.
In its performance at Red Room on May 22, The Hand showcased its big power-trio rock sound in the best possible way, owing in large part to the killer guitar setup of Scott Schmaljohn, formerly of seminal Idaho band Treepeople.
There are definite comparisons to X and the X-Ray Specks, mostly in the style of female vocalist Angie Schmaljohn (Scott's wife), whose every note was delivered in a gritty, hip-jiggling wail that cut through the noise instead of blending with it. But the backing tracks were not as turbo-charged, sticking more to heavy mid-tempo riffs delivered via Delorian from Seattle in the early '90s.
"Just three practices," Angie said.
Unfortunately, Angie sat down after a few songs. And without anything to cut through the power-sludge, the sound was not nearly as interesting and leaned toward somewhat generic—though well-executed—rock music.
It reminded me of what Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane said about the band's vocalist, Grace Slick: a single female vocalist has the power of half a dozen men.
The Hand is not breaking any new ground. But sometimes, it's way better just to get your teeth kicked in with rock 'n' roll. As there is currently no shortage of avant garde electronic experimental artists in Boise right now, cranked half-stacks and banging heads may be just what Dr. Feelgood ordered.
I don't know that I would go as far as calling The Hand the best new band in town—especially since its newness is in question due to years of rotating membership (members joke about calling its current incarnation "Second Hand")—but I am certainly looking forward to seeing my dentist again.