Udet, a garage rock trio, connected with localbandsnyc.com, performed a short, sweet 27-minute set in the ancient and atmospheric sub-basement of the Lit Lounge to introduce their second CD album, “Runaway Train.” Call me uninformed, I’m after all not a rock musician myself, but I always thought that rock was written in 4/4 time, and never realized that odd time signatures (like, e.g. 7/8 and 5/4 time) could connect with the whole rock groove, by which I mean provide a captivating beat.
But that’s just what this boldly experimental, energetic prog-punk band manages to accomplish. Innovators, with the audacity of such iconoclasts as Fugazi, Jesus Lizard, Miles Davis and John Coltrane (that’s right, Miles and Coltrane), Udet apparently feel free to break all the rules and conventions, and to gamble with wantonly improvisational instrumentals, emotive vocals, repetitive, rumbling bass lines and complex, hypnotic drum rhythms. Brennan’s surprisingly youthful-sounding voice won’t be mistaken for “emo” because its so frank and unpretentious. He sings relatively sparingly, but with great effect, in Udet’s predominantly instrumental arrangements.
I missed the openers, Dirty Churches, but caught the next up, a pair of really hot grrls called Spalding Rockwell, somewhat in the Psycho Sluts mold, performing in the electro-clash style with digital drum and sample tracks to accompany their guitars and vocals. Udet opened with “Both Sides,” then “Sinking,” both off the new CD, both rousing entries with mesmerizing 7/8 bass lines. They followed with a mellower change-of-pace, “My Life,” featuring a trippy, meandering instrumental conclusion. Next came a song in 3/4 (waltz) time with a punk chorus; then yet another 7/8 jam, this time in a jazzy style, featuring bassist Jason with Max’s aggressive vocals. Then the title track, “Runaway Train,” captured not only the sound and feel of a runaway train, but also the essence and attitude of rock music itself, with its recklessness, its dynamism, its orgasmic quality.
They ended with a piece featuring a harsh punk riff that had a long, melodic and improvisational ending. Rock can mean a lot of things but to me it ideally means rebellious energy, playing something fresh and new, spilling your guts lyrically, and pummeling the music out of a guitar, a bass and a drum set. Udet captures that ideal like no other local band I know.