Price of freedom: Rock for a reason

The Treatment, the Fingerpainters, and Races to April
at the Outback Lodge
Saturday, November 6

Students for a Free Tibet at UVA held their annual benefit concert Saturday, November 6, at Outback Lodge, and for $5 rockers gained the sense, even if intangible, that their money was going to something better than brewskies and nachos.

If you're wondering, like I was, why some UVA students direct their empathy specifically to Tibet, the group's web page explains: "UVA and the Charlottesville community are home to a remarkable number of Tibetans, practitioners of Tibetan religious traditions, and scholars of Tibetan language, religion, and culture."

The Dalai Lama has even visited the university.

Sizing me up for a benefit show attendee rather than a devotee of the weekly Saturday night Goth-O-Rama known as the Dawning, someone directed me left to the club's main floor rather than right into the basement. I found myself at the bar for most of the evening.

Starting up not even close to punctually was the Treatment, a group I first saw last summer, but, oh, how they've improved. The usual four-piece rock setup has kind of an early '90s Social Distortion thing going, particularly with the gruff tones of their vocalist. Though his range is not anything to write mama about, the singer has relaxed into his voice, more than occasionally shouting at the top of his lungs, where before he was rather reserved.

The addition of keyboards on some of the Treatment's songs added a softened edge to the gruff sound they threw out; and the group's pop/rock set seemed more solid since their last pass across my visual field.

The Fingepainters were up next, and since I reviewed the group a few issues back, I'll leave you time to see them before I talk them up again. Suffice to say that the group is still a pop-heavy burst of early emo with a sizeable ability to write a melody.

The last band I saw was Races to April, their second year playing the Benefit show. Never having seen the group before, I was a little concerned when their first minute-long piece was an melodic instrumental (I have a problem sitting though long periods of wordless rock guitar). But soon enough, the four-piece (two guitars/bass/drums) broke into song.

Pop sensibilities reverberated through the Outback Lodge's small space in a kind of modern indie mix with a mid-'90s top-40 "Alternative Radio" vibe. Possessing a fine voice that slithered up their original songs' peaks, the guitarist/vocalist was only one fine piece of an even finer puzzle– the group had a number of tricks up its sleeve, like switching to a syncopated second half of a previously straight-ahead 4/4 chorus, which kept things interesting.

As far as I know, Tibet is still not free, but the groups I saw perform made me forget my wallet's $5 lighter state– at least until I had to pay my bar tab.

Races to April