4/25/09: Box Elders @ Cake Shop (93/100)

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I’d like to think Box Elders were named after one of my all time favorite Pavement songs. But, then again I’d like to think a lot of bands named themselves after Pavement songs, because Pavement was an amazing band. Influential enough to warrant such inspiration. But I think these guys were named after the bug instead. The bugs I grew up with in Minnesota. Annoying, but harmless, little bastards.

Not like the band, Box Elders. They weren’t little or annoying. They were tall and fun. From their ridiculous outfits, to their song-after-song-after-song assault on the eardrums. They just cranked out pop gem after pop gem with little or no pause or audience banter. Ramones style. And the similarity with this masters of the three chord, two minute song didn’t end there.

If I had to describe Box Elders to someone, I’d say they were The Ramones and Beat Happening, with some California surf punk thrown in. And the funny thing is, they’re from Omaha. Ok, that’s not funny ha-ha, but you know what I’m saying.


Before the show, I spent all day in Central Park with friends, laying around in 80-something degree weather. So come show time, I was feeling pretty wiped out, but still managed to pull it together to meet up my friend Josh and Scott, a friend of a friend. We grabbed some pre-show drinks at Local 138 before heading to Cake Shop – my savior of a venue lately.

Cake Shop has probably been the best venue to see smaller, relatively unknown bands throughout this project. Whoever is booking the shows there has a great ear, because I’ve yet to be disappointed. Just a little something for your NYers out there, if you’re looking to spontaneously check out good local music, pop by Cake Shop. Like Josh, Scott and I did tonight.

We got there around 10:15p and Box Elders had just gone on. There was a decent crowd at the show, which was good. You never know at these shows. I’ve been to Cake Shop and seen it super crowded, and I’ve been one of five or six people. Tonight, we’re probably talking a good 20 or 30 people bopping along to the pop gems of Box Elders.

What an interesting band, visually and audibly. Your eye immediately goest to the bass player, who is shirtless with a silver coat, super short shorts, and ankle-high alligator boots. He whipped his hair around, getting in caught in the Christmas lights that hang above the stage. Then there’s the drummer who plays standing up, and often plays keyboards and drums at the same time. He was truly amazing, in his drumming and multi-tasking abilities. On guitar was a really tall, goofy guy who was also sporting super short shorts and moccasins.

“What I want to know is how the hell these three guys found each other,” said Scott. Solid question. They definitely seem like an odd trio, but maybe that’s why it works. Or they’re the only three guys in Omaha who can relate to each other, so they formed a band. Whatever their formula, it’s a good one.

“A bit one note,” said Josh. Sure. Solid point, I guess. But I was totally ok with it, because I like that one note. Even if I hear it over and over and over again.

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