Foot-tappers: Thump rules on the Mall

Rule of Thump
at Miller's
March 27, 2003

Miller's is an acoustic nightmare. I mean, let's get serious here for a second. Every time I walk in there I feel like John Travolta in that movie Phenomenon.

Thoughts start spinning out of control concerning the inefficient layout. The bands are tucked between two sheets of glass and a partition wall in the front-left side of the room. This causes an awful echo to come off the left wall.

About once every three times I step into Miller's I see some music that I can really dig on. It's always a crapshoot. Then again, they can't please everyone all the time. Maybe I'm too picky about the music I listen to-­ my friends think I should lighten up.

This time around I decided to go with an open mind. The papers billed the band as Rule of Thump, and I thought the name was clever enough. Could the music have elements of the same ingenuity?

The four-piece outfit of bass, guitar, drums, and percussion was quite a spectacle. I recognized two of the musicians as regulars on the music scene. I had déja vu watching them squeeze into the aforementioned corner.

The sound, however, was very unfamiliar. Despite the acoustics, the band found a nice blend. When I arrived, they were deep into a funky world-beat rhythm that was quite a foot-tapper. Within moments, I was amazed at how well the percussionist interacted with the drummer. There were times when the percussion blended so well that it became nothing more than a subconscious rhythm. The drummer played a laid-back straight style, which complimented the bass player's very direct groove.

From the time I grabbed a seat in the middle of the room to when I moved up directly in front of the band, the music was quite enjoyable. They seem to prefer Caribbean and Latin rhythms.

A few times the bassist would begin a song that carried more of a funk vibe. Melodically, the guitarist was able to carry the tunes with ease. I was even more impressed by how patient he was with his solo-ing. That's a telltale sign for me when it comes to judging the maturity of a guitarist. He really took his time building his solos and constructing complete ideas with his phrasing. Nice.

The night flew by quickly– much quicker after I moved to the front of the room. The first place I sat smelled like a frat house basement. I may have been able to ignore it had the waitress brought me beer. She didn't even acknowledge me. The look in her eyes said: "Je t'aurais bien aide, mais je ne t'aime pas."

She must have known I was going to dump on the venue. At least this time I didn't badmouth the band.

Rule of Thump