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VHS Or Beta
Bug Jar, Rochester, NY – 04.05.08
Filter Grade: 82%
It was time to dance and shake off the winter doldrums. Finally, the mounds of snow have melted away with spring encroaching upon us and VHS or Beta brought their touring mates, Tigercity, to shake up Rochester’s Bug Jar with some sweaty, pop, hooked-filled, dance-rock beats…at least that was supposed to happen. After two lackluster openers, Tigercity got the small club dancing and ready for the headliners, VHS or Beta. Yet, through miscommunications, the quintet was without instruments, so what is an electronic, rock band to do…go acoustic of course.
Tigercity proved to be sanctified as they resurrected the evening with their electro-rock, disco influenced tunes. The Brooklyn four piece, touring with VHS to promote their 6 track EP, Pretend Not to Love, unleashed their full EP as well as unreleased songs. Joel Ford (bass/vocals), Aynsley Powell (drums), and Andrew Brady (guitar) put on a flawless performance as Bill Gillim (lead singer) could not contain himself as he hypnotically moved about the stage while hitting those high notes. The tall, scruffy faced Gillim caught audience members by surprise when he managed his Gibbsian (as in Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb) high pitched, falsetto voice. The band shelled out the perfect compliment: catchy bass, spacey keyboards, drum loops and funky guitar; the spectators delightfully danced.
Gillim beckoned for the audience to move closer as he wanted to “crowd surf” of course, the quick one liner was indeed ironic as there were not enough bodies in the audience to carry a mid sized dog across the room. Nonetheless, the guys put on a great show for us few and chatted up the thickening crowd they were drawing from the bar. Tigercity managed to get the modest crowd moving with the fast favorite “Are You Sensation;” the quartet revved the crowd up for more dance tunes from VHS or Beta. Members of VHS were scattered about the venue, equally enjoying the tunes; yet, when it came time to perform, only lead singer Craig Pfunder and guitarist Mike McGill approached.
When one of the opening acts stated, “and later you’ll have a special acoustic performance by VHS or Beta,” I thought it was a harmless joke. Yet, as Pfunder stepped up on the platform and began setting up chairs, the harsh reality was now comprehended …VHS or Beta was indeed about to churn out an acoustic performance. However, worries were abated as Pfunder and McGill pulled off a sound performance, though quieter than preferred. Pfunder and McGill filled the void of missing instruments and band members by chatting with the crowd between each song. With guitars borrowed from other bands, it took the guys a few minutes to get the sound and mic just right, Pfunder modestly asked the crowd, “we’re VHS or Beta…so do you know who we are,” the crowd cheered a resounding yes.
As the lead singer again apologized for their missing equipment, which did not find its way to Rochester though they did, Pfunder looked at McGill, confirmed which song they were going to perform and began “Burn it All Down.” Mark Palgy (Bass) jumped on stage to film VHS’ first time ever, “and last” Pfunder added, acoustic show while Mark Guidry (drums) and Chea Beckley (keyboards) joined the audience. Pfunder still sounded flawless and sang fan favorites from their new release Bring on the Comets and their 2004 release Night on Fire. After finishing a song Pfunder asked for the time as someone shouted 1:36, he shared “we just have a time for a song or two,” to which the crowd lamented. “Unless you want us to go on,” Pfunder teased as an audience member responded “I can listen to you guys all night!”
Regardless of “technical” difficulties, VHS of Beta entertained the delighted and appreciative crowd who did not want Pfunder and McGill to leave the stage. They did pull off an excellent show regardless of their missing gear. I am still secretly pouting and kicking dirt like a school girl since I did not get to see the rocking show I anticipated, ‘tis the curse of living in a semi-small town, bet that wouldn’t have happened at Bowery Ballroom!