It was an eclectic ticket: The Sabbath-loving psychedelic pop of Dead Meadow; the scabrous Iggy worship of the Icarus Line, and the minimalist, literate metal-punk of the 400 Blows. But despite the critical favour showered on Dead Meadow (particularly after their excellent fourth album, 'Shivering King and Other Stories'), the hype surrounding the Line’s leap to the v2 label and the underground cred of 400 Blows the trio barely attracted two dozen people, if that, to their Saturday night show.

Part of the problem may have been that the show was all-ages, with an alleged starting time of 8 pm (pushed back to past 9 pm when the 400 Blows were delayed at the border), possibly discouraging the older crowd, while the younger crowd failed to show at all.

It would be hard to pretend that the lacklustre turnout didn’t adversely affect the bands’ performances.

The 400 Blows opened the show with a brisk seven-song set. The black-clad group has an energetic drummer and guitarist. The singer wears black leather gloves and reflective aviator glasses on stage, and gyrated in a reasonably active manner. But without an audience for him to work against, the band’s robotic hardcore seemed a trifle undernourished.

The Icarus Line took the stage next, although they were originally the headliners. No complaints from the audience about this switch, however – most of the audience seemed to be there to see Dead Meadow. The murky noise of their sophomore album, 'Penance Soiree', has been growing on me, and the band made a decent effort to put it across on stage. Singer Joe Cardomone was louche yet focused. Unfortunately, even a ton of reverb on his vocals didn’t disguise his screechy voice.

The band’s drummer, Jeff Watson, thumps away mercilessly and both the bassist and guitarist Aaron North bopped around vigorously, at one time almost toppling his amplifier (rather pretentiously spray-painted with the logo “Punk is Dead" ).

The Icarus Line’s set was short, and after a half-dozen songs and some onstage discussion, they decided to perform only three more songs – shortened to one when the drummer snapped a stick and marched off stage to get a beer.

Dead Meadow’s set seemed fairly languid as well, but then its druggy vibe is supposed to be spaced out. The group supplements its live sound with a second guitarist, and he did a journeyman job of doubling the various parts. The group already has an excellent live show (as documented on its live recording, 'Got Live if You Want It!'), and lived up to expectations.

They ran through several tunes from their fine fourth album, 'Shivering King', pulling out one of their songs into an extended riff before leaving the stage, with no encore, little more than an hour and a half after the 400 Blows stepped on to it.

It was a worthwhile show, but one which I’m sure left bands and audience alike wondering where the crowd was.

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Commenting On: Babylon, Ottawa, 3/7/2004 - Dead Meadow, the Icarus Line and the 400

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