You can always count on Centro-matic to put on a good show, and Saturday night (June 7) at Schubas was no exception. The Denton, Texas, band is putting out a new CD titled Dual Hawks – or rather, a double-CD with one disc by Centro-matic and one disc by the other band led by Centro main guy Will Johnson, South San Gabriel. Centro-matic is Johnson’s more straightforward rock group, while South San Gabriel is his outlet for moodier, mellower and more experimental music. At times, it sounds like Centro-matic stretched out, with more emphasis on the spaces between the notes. I love the South San Gabriel recordings, but I’ve yet to see a live show by that configuration. That wasn’t what we got Saturday anyway – it was all Centro, with a strong set of new and old tunes. Johnson did lots of his patented leg kicks and pumped his hands on his chest for the heart-beating encore.
This was the first night of a two-night stand for the double bill of Centro-matic and The M’s. Centro was the headliner on Saturday, and the M’s got top billing Sunday. Luckily for me, as a fan of both groups, I felt like I got a full set out of The M’s on Saturday. Even though they played first, they got to play a longer set than usual. The group’s sound isn’t quite as dense and thick as it was on earlier records, but the songs on the new album Real Close Ones have a similar way of burrowing into your brain after repeated listens.