Eleventh Dream Day at the Empty Bottle

Thank the rock gods (or whoever your reigning deity may be) that Eleventh Dream Day has soldiered on for all these years. (It’s hard to believe they’ve been together for 23 years now.) EDD concerts and albums only come once in a rare while, but they’re always an event. And EDD shows always rank among my favorites of the year. Sure, they might not be doing anything that’s considered especially groundbreaking or trendy in 2006, but their music almost seems like it went out of fashion then came back into fashion. To my ears, it fits in perfectly with a lot of the garage rock and punk revivalism going on these days.

The songs from the new album, Zeroes and Ones, sounded great next to older EDD tunes. It’s as good an album as they’ve ever done, and the track “Lately I’ve Been Thinking” is one of my favorite songs this year.

Rick Rizzo was in fine form, pushing and pulling on the neck of his guitar as if he were struggling to keep it from writhing out of control. Janet Bean’s drumming was tight when it needed to be, more chaotic when the music called for it. And Doug McComb was excellent as always on the bass. (Does this guy look like the prototypical bassist or what? He really looks like he is exerting himself as he works those strings.)

The show got really great when keyboardist Mark Greenberg switched to bass and McCombs took up guitar. The group kicked into a fiery version of an oldie, “Testify,” followed by “Lately I’ve Been Thinking” (on which Kiki Yablon of the opening act Red Eyed Legends joined in). The encore was a surprising cover of Joy Division’s “Isolation” (which really did sound like an EDD song) and a song from the very first EDD record, Prairie School Freakout. (Sorry, my memory of song titles is failing me here…)