by Josh Gross
The lineup included Deaf Kid from Caldwell, a new electric set from indie-folkster Clarke and the Himselves, First Borns and Portland, Ore., Treefort alums, The Shivas.
The Shivas and Deaf Kid both played respectable sets, though the searing, rockabilly guitar licks Deaf Kid's Dominic Munoz ran through as a warmup during soundcheck is the band this critic would really like to see.
The surprise of the evening was Clarke Howell of Clarke and the Himselves, whose new electric setup brought some much-needed teeth to his set.
Howell set up an electric guitar and a drum set, then took turns pounding the strings of his overdriven guitar with the sticks in between downbeats on the snare drum. Howell has always written good material, but then sort of limpwristedly phoned in the performance aspect. But the new setup forced a more-ferocious attack that gave his tunes an impact similar to grunge. Elliott Smith's work in Heatmiser certainly came to mind, as did early K-Records bands from the mid- to late-'90s Olympia, Wash., scene.
Topping the bill was Boise's First Borns, which was celebrating the release of its new, self-titled tape. But for those lacking tape players, the album is also streamable or available for download via bandcamp for $1.
The album has eight tracks of sparsely arranged lo-fi dream rock. Drummer Erik Butterworth plays minimalistic beats in four, with simple chord changes carried by the bass, and simple, drony textural guitar flourishes on top from the band's other two members, Chris Smith and Alex Hecht.