Going up: Ted Stryker boys on the move
The Civil War Re-Enactors and Ted Stryker's Drinking Problem at Tokyo Rose, Friday, November 29
A large contingent of Charlottesville's rock scene should probably decide to pack up their axes, amps, and snares and move somewhere where no one's ever heard of Ted Stryker's Drinking Problem.
The band is that good. They've got the sound, the youth (they appear to be of high school age, or just out of it), and the songs to make it, and no embellishment as to their worth is required.
After waiting at the Tokyo Rose's nearly deserted post-T-day bar upstairs for about 20 minutes, we saw signs of life brewing from the stage below and ventured into the dark den that is the Rose basement. Right away The Civil War Re-Enactors, the first band to perform, kicked their set off. I had never seen TCWRE before– the group is made up of the Jeff Melkerson, the singer/guitarist (and I assume principal songwriter) from the now defunct Those Crazy Bruce Lee Power Kicks, and the drummer from Ted Stryker's– and at least some of the songs I recognized as having once been performed by TCBLPK.
The singer/guitarist's sung /spoken/screamed vocals sounded like the product of a David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Stephen Malkmus (Pavement) one-night stand, and the songwriting is equally perturbing/amazing. I'll hold off on reviewing them further, because they deserve more space than I can give them this time.
After a short wait, the guitarist, bassist, and drummer of Ted Stryker's appeared on-stage and got ready to play– then there was a short sample of the "crossing the streams" dialogue from the movie Ghostbusters, and then the theme song started. Singer/keyboard player Jay Purdy and a person who I am guessing was a friend, ran out onstage in homemade Ghostbusters uniforms, Purdy put on his keyboard (he wears it in an over-the-shoulder style), and the group launched into their set.
Pretty much every song the group played was a catchy hook-filled slab of New Wave pop (an early '80s synthesizer-filled genre, see Madness or the Human League)– they even played the 1981 A Flock of Seagulls' hit "Telecommunication" to hammer their retro point home. But even though the group choose a particularly fun genre to emote, the songs behind the waves of Van-Halen-"Jump" style keyboard flourishes are hands down the best rock/pop tunes I have heard coming from a local act.
Check out one of the songs performed, "Slashing Tires," in mp3 format from the group's webpage, tedstryker.homestead.com. "If we don't - find a way - to coexist yeah/If we just - pretend that we don't notice whoa huh oh" goes the chorus, and the pure pop joy of the tune sounds like it belongs on a best of the '80s compilation.
This was only one of the possible future hits I witnessed Friday night. Take my word for it, if these guys don't break up, sell-out, or dry up, they're going to be big.