Crowd-pleasing Chucklehead slams out great set
March 15.By Brian Hoffman
The clean, long expanse of Mama Kin's doors gaped wide, ready to accept the masses who travelled the dark, foreboding route down Landsdowne Street. The large curtained stage remained cloaked and darkened. Soon, the patrons would stand before this stage and pay homage to the performers. For now, they waited, chatting amongst themselves. Some shared booths to sit and rest, some to eat, and some ordered from the variety of fine drinks on the menu. As the crowd slowly grew, I noticed that many of the patrons appeared to be in their later twenties, which really was not so surprising since the show was scheduled for mid-week.
As the hour of the performance approached, the crowd hummed with excitement, each traveller hoping the night's entertainment would prove his trip worthwhile. Soon, a brief introduction was made, the heavy curtain concealing the stage folded back, and the Curbside Prophets began to play. The Curbside Prophets, who had been on tour with the Spin Doctors, kicked off the show with a set that was longer than that of most opening bands. The power trio pounded out a set that I liked enough to pick up their CD after they finished.
After a brief interlude, Chucklehead stormed the stage sporting their typically garish outfits - Huck Bennert on sax, percussion, and vocals with a metallic bodysuit, Brian Gottesman on keyboard and vocals with a black dress, Erik Attkisson on drums with a pink dress, and Eben Levy playing the part of the fool.
The crowd loved every minute of their set - people danced, fell down, got up, and danced some more. The crowd was a bit less energetic (i.e., there was no mosh pit) than might be found at other places, but, given the slightly older age of the crowd and the numerous security personnel stationed strategically around the room, this might not be so surprising. However, there was one mildly successful attempt at a stage dive, which made up for the lack of enthusiasm.
The sound system at Mama Kin is excellent - the drum beats pounded through the crowd, powered by a battery of speakers, particularly those at the base of the stage. Both the Curbside Prophets and Chucklehead took full advantage of its capabilities.
Chucklehead put on an impressive performance. They made a concerted effort to get the crowd involved in the show, and the crowd responded, jumping wildly, the people waving their hands in the air. The group members interacted well with one other and had a very good stage presence. At one point in the set, Eben Levy brought out a guest performer to do vocals for a rap production with the group, a cool addition to the night.
However, Brian Gottesman appeared a bit too stolid in front of the keyboard, taking the performance a bit more seriously than it should have been given the entirely trivial atmosphere of the evening. Also, bassist Mick Demopoulos might have been brought more into the light; his playing was excellent, but he was kept entirely in the background. These two factors contributed to the show being mostly centered around Eben Levy, Huck Bennert, and Meyer Statham on trombone. This came off very well, however, as the three made an outgoing trio headed by Levy that allowed the crowd to interact with the band.
Overall, the group came together and slammed out a great set of tunes, several of which came from their first album, keeping the crowd continually grooving and completely into their performance. After the second encore, people could be heard whispering "wow" to each other. Put it this way: The group impressed this reviewer, who generally has an industrial hardcore appreciation bias - they're definitely worth seeing when they come to town, both for their energetic and garish stage performance and their sheer musical ability.