A regal night in Tampa

I have to admit, I’ve been hermiting in my little love nest with the bf lately and haven’t been out to a lot of shows in the past month. 

Since, for his past few shows, I had missed seeing King of Spain, a.k.a. Matt Slate — one of Tampa’s best performers, according to … oh, just about everyone  — I made an effort to hoist myself out of the comfy and snuggly vortex I’ve been sucked into (it was hard, believe you me) to head out to Kelly’s Pub to catch Slate again. 

Plus, I was eager to see Petrograd in Transit and New Lands, also scheduled to play Kelly’s Sunday night.

Petrograd in Transit, I’m sad to say, had to cancel because some douche stole bassist Doug Nelson’s guitar from the band’s practice space at Audio Labs on Hillsborough Avenue.

So, if you see some a-hole trucking around a bass that doesn’t belong to him, ask Doug (aka Fluffy on MySpace) if it’s his.

Also: If you haven’t heard PiT, please try to, they play lush and fierce instrumental rock that’s laced with dreamy, 80s-like keyboards. Here’s a link to my profile with them.

The turnout was a little disappointing but not surprising considering it was a Sunday night. 

James Bess and Brian Repetto of Dumbwaiters and Insect Joy showed up to support Matt Slate, and Harold of Sound Effects art show’s Mitzi and Harold fame (sorry, don’t remember his last name!) came to catch his New Lands pals. (He’s excited about the music-themed, mulimedia art event coming up in September. Check out Myspace.com/sndfx08. Harold says the Black Kids are going to stop by because the shindig falls on the weekend of their show.)

I also got to catch up with my good pal Doug Fender, who plays keys for another local instrumental rock band of note, Red Room Cinema. He said his friend Carson was mixing the band’s new CD and there should be a CD release party sometime around the beginning of September on New Granada Records. The tentative title is Black Friday Session, named for the post-Turkey-, retail-gluttony day on which it was initially recorded. A track from it, “The Nation Is on Fire” is on the band’s MySpace page page.   

The band’s also working on an interesting concept EP, featuring the 25-minute song “Apsis” that’s inspired by the Italo Calvino short story, the Soft Moon

New Lands played fuzzy, resonant rock that would appeal to fans of Velvet Underground, Stone Roses and Jesus and Mary Chain. I am not 100 percent sure, but I think Neil was playing a Dan Electro (I’m a lazy reporter on blogs; so sue me) and it had a lovely, warm vintage sound that blazed in front of thick rock rhythms. The trio was powerful and entertaining live but could have been tighter in spots. 

I liked how drummer Brian donned a white chintz hat and came across as a cheerful, bouncy yin to Neil and Jonathan’s deadpan yang. It was amusing to watch. Plus, I really liked his drumming style. It enlivened the band.

Matt Slate gave a knockout performance, despite his seated manipulation of prerecorded vocals and instruments and the pub’s acoustical challenges. In his shows, he somehow manages the trick of being both introspective and charismatic. It’s fascinating, really.

Amid all his genius wizardry, my favorite aspect of King of Spain is Matt’s smooth voice. He should turn up his vocal mike at shows.

Matt played three newer songs that he hadn’t played out much yet. “Feral Children” and “Hope Fire Air Water” were the first and last songs (mostly instrumental, a little more experimental).

He’s thinking about putting together a short EP of this stuff in the near future.

“Sames and Crescents,” one of the songs he’s working on for the follow-up full-length to Entropy, He uses a lot of e-bow on these tracks, and on the more experimental stuff: a good bit of sampling gear and synths along with home-made percussion instruments and found objects — as well as a hefty dose of guitar effects.

I just hope he records another song I love as much as “Cinco de Mayo.”

Then again, maybe I don’t!


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