Phishy business: Acoustic-jam a crowd-pleaser

Left Foot Braking
at Miller's
November 1

It was beautiful out last Saturday night, just cool enough for a light jacket, but still warm enough to make outside seating on the Downtown Mall comfortable, so after having enjoyed two hours of prime $3 cinematic entertainment at the Jefferson Theater, I made my way over to Miller's for an equally prime outdoor seat at that establishment.

I was, at least subconsciously, aware that the local act Left Foot Braking was scheduled to perform, and having taken the table closest to the large window behind the stage, I steeled myself for a few hours of ass-heavy free tunes.

My seat, you understand, while allowing me to avoid the venue's $3 cover, had the amusing quirk of providing me with a posterior-centric view of the band- -in the words of my friend Ann Belaney, I was doing a kind of "Behind the Music" piece.

Because of my wholehearted commitment to reviewing bands with "substance over style," I will refrain from reviewing the most visible element of the group's on-stage appearance (at least from where I was sitting), but another friend, with a similar view, commented, "Things are looking quite good from here."

The first Left Foot Braking song I heard in its totality was an acoustic/electric tune in the vein of Dire Straits, though with noticeably higher vocals. The group's singer, situated stage left, provided acoustic backing for some of the set, and possessed a fine– though not particularly outstanding– voice.

The first and second songs seemed to be arranged similarly­ pop/rock beginning, extended instrumental section with wa-wa guitar entering the fray, then melody reprise, with an extended jam close. What struck me most about the group, aside from the nice walking bass lines, was the fact that the drummer performed on an electronic drum kit-­ of the type last seen (at least by me) in a Def Leppard music video from 1987. Not sounding particularly synthetic, the set did have the nice benefit of fitting well on Miller's painfully small stage.

After a number of similar pop/rock-followed-by-jam-to-close numbers, the group took a break, and then began their second set, composed, from what I could tell, of covers. Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" was followed by Bob Dylan's great rock tune "Hurricane"-­ both songs well performed, but somehow still with the acoustic-jam feel that Left Foot Braking perfected in the first set.

The group's performance of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Tree" broke one of the unwritten rules of Miller's– evidently, almost every band that performs at the venue plays a cover of it, making for a kind of nauseating inside joke for the wait staff there.

Comedy aside, jam and I have never been comfortable bedfellows, and Left Foot Braking's show at Miller's was just a little too "Phishy" for my tastes.

Left Food Braking