Can't stop the pop: Marky likes it

at Miller's
Friday, August 6

"Zag" is:

a) A town in Kentucky

b) A meteorite

c) A human protein

d) A geography journal in Germany

e) A good pop/rock group

f) All of the above

If you picked answer (f), you're right, at least according to the lead singer of the group as a bit of between-song banter as he changed a string. Good for you!

"Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight" sang the lead singer/guitarist of Zag, his high altitude vocal chords sailing over the notes with consummate ease as I strolled into Miller's for another evening of musical wonderment. The three-piece that greeted me on-stage was more my cup of whisky than any other group I've seen recently– for though I appreciate many genres, a bit of the ole' pop/rock gets me really going. And Zag's equation for existence goes along the lines of: Zag @ pop/rock.

Guitar/vox, bass, and drums– the traditional power trio setup– are the building blocks of Zag, but what sets the group apart from its fuzz-boxed cronies is a predominance of catchy songs. Fairly well stocked with thriving members of both sexes, the Miller's crowd Friday night seemed appreciative of what the group was offering up to the universe.

The first complete song delivered after my arrival was "Sensitive," an original tune that keeps up the narrative tone of its first two lines: "I'm so sensitive I hope you can see / There's nothing scary inside of me." An intermittent falsetto punctuated words at certain points during the verse as the group alt-countried its way to the end.

"Red Smile" was up next, spurred along by a jazz chord that blazed the way for the other two standard-issue powerhouses that made up the verse guitar riff. Beside lots of "baby," the song didn't leave a lasting impression– which is not to say it's not a good tune, just that I was hit in the head really hard but once.

A combination of Billy Idol and Johnny Rotten (that would be one snarly bastard) blazed off the stage after the song's simple guitar intro (I think I heard "Jules Verne" as the title, but I can't be sure), both in terms of the singers affectation and the song's straight-as-an-arrow 4/4 beat. One thing that really struck me about the group was how loud the singer's voice was– it was not buried in the mix at all, which in this case was a good thing thanks to its quality, and allowed the lyrics to be understood.

By about song five, a couple at the bar decided that 10:45 on a Saturday night at Miller's was the proper time to get freaky, and proceeded to tongue duel for the next half an hour as each took possession of the other's private regions. I'm blaming song six, which bore a striking resemblance to a Bryan Adams number ("All work and no play / All money and no soul"). The artist formerly known as Bryan Adams (now known as Ryan Adams) has been known to have that effect on people.