Posted by: Andrew – Sep 08, 2010
This truly excellent video of the Netherfriends performing at a house show in Richmond on April 19 of this year was shot and put together by Graham Ohmer. We've talked about the Netherfriends before, but coming upon this video this morning was my first real experience with their music, and I was absolutely entranced. As the video depicts--with surprising fidelity, considering the circumstances of its filming--the Netherfriends have a loud, rough, but overwhelmingly melodic and catchy sound. Filling in for the lack of a bass player with keyboard drones and outstanding, funky drumming, they transcend source limitations on this video, as well as the fact that they were clearly playing in a room not designed for live music, to blow the crowd away. At one point (4:30), during a lull in the music, someone in the crowd screams, "OH MY GOD!" then babbles something indistinct. "What?" singer Shawn Rosenblatt asks into the microphone. "You guys are SICK!" the guy yells, just as the band slams right back into the song at full volume.
This video captures more than just the excellent music of the Netherfriends, though. It's also a great document of the best, most unique parts of attending house shows in Richmond. You can just feel the cramped nature of the room during the video, the way the band members and their instruments have been tightly fitted into a space that is, strictly speaking, smaller than they'd generally need. When touring guitarist Andy Molholt shakes a percussion instrument at the beginning of the video, you feel like he's going to bop you right in the face. During the most exuberant parts of the set (5:00-5:15), kids dance despite the cramped nature of the room, and the camera gets knocked around, winds up pointing at the backs of people's heads, or at nothing in particular. It's just like actually being there--you want to watch the band, but whether you'll be able to at any given moment is out of your control. You might have to just close your eyes, put your head down, and dance.
The Netherfriends were in Richmond as part of their 50 Songs In 50 States Project, an extremely ambitious year-long effort put into motion by bandleader/only constant member Shawn Rosenblatt back at the beginning of April, and which still continues to this day. The goal of the project is to write and record one song in each of the 50 states in one year's time. Having forsaken the lease on his apartment in Chicago, Shawn left for a tour that will stretch on until next spring, playing shows with whatever musicians he can find who are willing and able to make the journey with him. In the Richmond video, it was Hop Along drummer Mark Quinlan and the aforementioned Andy Morholt, but by now both have returned to their hometowns. Shawn soldiers on, currently in the company of an apparently excellent Irish drummer named Michael. Tomorrow night, they will play in Sacramento. By the end of the month, they'll have traveled across the northernmost regions of the United States, hitting Alaska, Idaho, both Dakotas, and even Montreal. After all of that is over, they'll return to Richmond as part of their October leg of shows, performing here (if all goes according to plan) on October 11. Here's hoping that they draw an even bigger crowd this time.
The first Netherfriends full-length, Barry And Sherry, will be released on vinyl November 8 by Chicago's Lateral Records. It can be preordered here, or obtained in digital form right now at netherfriends.bandcamp.com. Lateral will also be releasing the first EP documenting the 50 Songs 50 States Project, which will include the song that the Netherfriends recorded in Richmond.
By Andrew Necci