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Review: Dreamers of the Ghetto, The Kemps

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The Kemps at White Rabbit Cabaret, May 27. Photo by Daniel Brown.
  • The Kemps at White Rabbit Cabaret, May 27. Photo by Daniel Brown.

The Pass, Dreamers of the Ghetto, The Kemps
May 27, White Rabbit Cabaret
3.5 stars (out of five)

Louisville dance-rockers The Pass found themselves on White Rabbit Drive early Friday night, wondering why the neighborhood looked better suited for shooting hoops than playing rock 'n' roll. Double-checking their directions, they realized the mix-up and headed to the White Rabbit Cabaret (on Prospect Street, natch) to play their set, which came first in an evening that also featured performances by Dreamers of the Ghetto and The Kemps. Once on stage, The Pass turned in a set of clichéd, dreamy tunes that would have been better suited for a strobe-lit dance club.

Next up was Bloomington space-rock family band Dreamers of the Ghetto, who turned in the best performance of the night. Led by vocalist/bassist Luke Jones (and assisted by a well placed fog machine), the group played a handful of brand-new songs, opting not to perform material from their self-titled debut album, which will be re-released on Temporary Residence later this summer.

Once they find a groove, the Dreamers hold on to it. Pulsating synth lines, thick, staccato guitar licks and decelerated dance beats combine with Jones's powerful vocals to create a futuristic sound that mixes old-school U2 with The XX. Choruses, filled with soaring harmonies and ambiguous lyrics, are the key building blocks in a wall of sound that's haunting yet hopeful.

Loud crunchy guitars, thick fuzzy bass and crashing drums filled the room as The Kemps played new tunes in their retro, "take shit from nobody" punk rock style. "Turn it up to eleven," lead singer Jared Birden screamed into the mic, after making the crowd stand for the first time all night. "Let's get up, it's fucking Friday night."

The gritty performance was abruptly broken into two sets with a five-minute "intermission" when guitarist Andy Rittenhouse broke two strings on the second song. This gave ample time for obnoxious, entertaining banter between the crowd and band. They led the audience in chants about unemployment, chatter about Nordstrom and jokes about taking a smoke break.

When it was finally time to start the second set, Birden pointed out camera equipment manned by Indy videography duo MonkeyEatsMonkey. "There are cameras here, flash them!" he yelled. "Oh and this set is dedicated to Oprah, 25 years!"

After screams for an encore, The Kemps played a rather delicate version of The Everly Brothers's "All I Have To Do Is Dream." Once the song ended, the band struck one intentionally out-of-tune chord, just in case the audience had forgotten who they really were.

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