Do You Like the “Rock and Roll,” Boys and Girls?

The Blender Theater at Gramercy turns out to be a pretty good place to see a rock show. You can hear the vocals, and the whole mix isn’t nightmarishly loud… and that’s as much as I hope for from one of these old converted theaters. And you can sit! Although the shows are technically SRO, the seats in the former balcony have been retained. Though there isn’t much leg room, any seats are a blessing when you’re too decrepit to stand for a three or four hour rock show.

After Michael Tolcher opened the show with a solid acoustic solo set, the The Alternate Routes took the stage. They’re one of my favorite new bands, and although they strayed a few times from their smooth mix of alt-rock and power pop by hitting us with a couple of hardheaded country-ish numbers and maybe a few bars more jamming than were necessary for their short set, they didn’t disappoint.

The Alternate Routes
The Alternate Routes, Dec. 15 2008

Then the headliners, The Clarks, took the stage.

The Clarks
The Clarks, Dec. 15 2008

These guys are consummate pros. One song flows right into another. They look like they’ve been doing this and loving it all their adult lives, which they have. A bonus was their inspiring cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “The River,” to which they gave a gently swinging beat.

Altogether a good night at the not-movies. And we even got to sit down. Kinda like old times – going to see a rock show, walking around between sets, buying a beer, sitting back down. Only now, there’s no actual smoke allowed, so they fill the hall with some kind of haze. I guess it’s to make the lighting effects look cooler, but what it does it take me back to the days when you could smoke – pretty much anything – at an indoor rock show, and as long as you didn’t set fire to anything or try to jump on the stage, nobody would give you a second look (or smell).