City Slang: Leopold & His Fiction at the New Way
Before tonight, I had only visited the New Way in Ferndale since the change of ownership for the Blowout last year. It’s always been a great little place, split as it is into a bar/sporty TV area and a live music venue. Just a half-wall separates the two areas, but it’s enough to retain two distinct vibes, and it works. Thankfully, the new owners haven’t messed with that. A fresh coat of paint, a few albums covers on the wall (Social D, Rage Against the Machine, etc), a couple of new games machines, and the place feels fresh but still familiar.
I walked in right at the start of a set by Casio Choir. The band includes guitarist Michael Krygier and bassist Steve Lehane from Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, with Krygier taking the vocal lead here. He does an ok job too – he’s not the strongest singer but he holds his own. The music, a slightly psychedelic take on disco-rock, is entirely listenable. It’s just hard not to think that, were they to get a visually stimulating kick-ass front man and allow Krygier to concentrate on his guitar, they’d be so much better.
Next up is Leopold & His Fiction, a band originally from Detroit but now based in San Fran. On Thursday night, the band was stunning. Front man David James (Leopold, I presume) looks like Freddie Mercury with suspenders, maybe with a dab of Ron Mael of Sparks. He has the Mercury moves down too – a great front man, he encourages crowd sing-along on a snowy Thursday in Ferndale, a ballsy move. At one point towards the end of the set, he left the stage to have a chat with friends, then went and bought a drink, all while the band played on, then le jumped back on and finished the song. Musically, the band sort of has an avant-garde take on garage rock. A little bit Berlin cabaret, with touches of Electric Six. I wish they still lived here, but at least we can claim them. This band is great.
The Bad Mics close out the night. They get off to a slow start – it feels like the four members are each playing a different song for a second or two. But once they get warmed up, they’re flying. Essentially a hard blues rock band, there are touches of metal in there, and some straight up rock ’n’ roll. PLUS, they have a keytar, and make it look good. There are enough changes of pace to keep things interesting, and I’ll be checking them out again.
Really though, tonight belonged to Leopold.