Live Review: dios (malos) @ Double Door 2/20/06
I’m sorry, but unless you’re Sigur Ros, or perhaps Mogwai or Interpol, unless your loftiness is thematic and merited and earned, you have to fucking smile. If you’re the opening indie bar band at the Double Door whose musical talent and ingenuity is still in the rudimentary stage, you don’t have the right to act lethargic and appear apathetic. If all you have under your belt are lackluster releases that do little on their own to grab my attention, when I see you live (especially on a Monday night) you have to play your sweet little hearts out, you have to jump around and yelp and sweat like there’s no sweatin’ tomorrow, otherwise I’ll write a bad review and publish it on the Internet where millions of trillions of music fans can recall it with the touch of a greasy finger, the same greasy finger that in two minutes will go to Ticketweb and not purchase passes for the next dios (malos) show. I’m not the most thorough of note-takers, but never before have I used a single word so often to encapsulate my exact thoughts on a performance. Blah. Over and over again. Blah blah blah. The only interesting focal point of the night was vocalist Jose Morales, and this is because he did volatile onstage theatrics such as putting up the hood of his parka and using his bottle of beer for a guitar slide. Drummer Jackie Monzon looked so indolent that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him yawn, and he ended the show without one hair out of place. Bassist JP Caballero perhaps had to concentrate too much on playing to be able to enjoy himself, and he looked around like a listless supermodel when he wasn’t watching his fingers. From the start, with “Feels Good Being Somebody,” dios (malos) sounded slightly under pitched and under tempo. I’m not sure if this shortcoming was a product of inability or of apathy; perhaps it was both. Overall the musicianship was not fantastic. The sound often felt labored, especially during guitar solos and drum fills that recalled high school talent shows in which a group of kids got together and practiced one song to death and performed it with no magic. There were other technical distractions. Morales had to slap his mic and fiddle with his pedals to get them to work properly. On closer “Later Skater” he once again fell to his knees to manipulate pedals, which is fine except that it disrupted his vocals, and he was behind his keyboard so that all we saw was the top oh his parka hood bobbing around. This isn’t the most dramatic position in which to end a show, unless you’re setting your guitar on fire, which dios (malos) definitely was not doing. Even if you’re not the most talented musicians on the planet, a show can be salvaged by showmanship that exudes heart and invokes vitality. If you hit wrong chords and miss pitches I’ll still love you if you make me laugh; if I’m dancing by the end of your set, rest assured I will revisit you the next time you come around. But dios (malos) fell flat in many regards. They don’t create the liveliest of tunes; however, even when the opportunity readily presented itself, such as during the sprawling epic “Epk,” the band sounded, well, blah. There was no belting grandiosity. No sparks. I just wanted to shout “Stand up and scream! Bang your fucking head! You’re jamming!” I’m not sure they would have heard. I’m not sure dios (malos) hears much of anything while performing, and this makes for one horribly frustrating show.