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the Boom / Dianogah / June of 44, the Troubadour, Los Angeles, 4/19/98

Well, I've been writing these little jobbies for over a year now, so I think I'm entitled to start using some highly technical concert reviewing lingo in my writeups. To help you identify these terms, I will set them off in quotes like this: "knickers". OK. Let's begin.

The Boom - How can I put it nicely? The Boom were, well, "awful". Perhaps that's a little unfair. My quarrel was really with the lead singer who had this problem with being "unbearable". Great bands of the past solved the problem of vocalists with a bad case of "unbearable" by simply turning off their microphones. I'm thinking here of the British art rock band Yes who had a habit of tuning out their guitarist Steve Howe in most of their live shows. They still gave him a microphone for the sake of appearances, but just never let on that it wasn't plugged in - at least that's my theory. It so happened that the voice of the Boom was also one of those people who should not have been let near a microphone, but evidently they haven't found the off switch yet, and he unfortunately ended up undermining the neat sax-driven rock/jazz thing they had going. "Bummer".

Dianogah - I find myself wanting to write pretty much the same thing I said about them last time I saw them open for June of 44 in Houston. Nothing they did was terribly groundbreaking in that Chicago sound genre that I love so much - repetitive, precise rhythms driving crisp instrumental guitar tunes. They just did it really well, which made it a pleasure to catch up with them again. What's more, they win the Richard Award for great song title: "A Bear Explains the Right and Wrong Ways to Put On Your Pants, Shirt, Shoes, and Hat."

June of 44 - When a band names itself after a series of letters by author Henry Miller to his wife June and his subsequent affiar with the writer Anais Nin, you can guess you're in for a bit of a dense time. Mix that with a smattering of often impenetrable lyrics stumbling from "marginal despiration" to nautical themes like a "mutiny of pirates" to phrases repeated like a sacred mantra: "take down your heart", "sharks and sailors", or "stern and starboard / port and bow". Toss in a musical montage that sounds like what would happen if composers Gorecki and Bartok got together and decided to start rock band built upon layered repetitive guitar structures with complex rhythms. If you could find your way down that sinuous path and not get lost, you'd be in June of 44's lair. Since the last time I saw them, they've toned down the edge a little bit, maybe even mellowed the dischord a tad. Thank goodness that drummer Doug Scharin hasn't quieted down with age, though - I will continue to maintain he is currently one of the most rhythmically inventive, powerful drummers around. Comparisons to Keith Moon, John Bonham, and Neil Peart are not out of line. If you're willing to branch out - way out - go see them. Nothing else you've heard comes even close.

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