VHS or Beta
Follow the Train
Headliners Music Hall
Sept. 29, 2007
BY ROXANN SLATE
I left my home on a Saturday night to see how Louisville partied. I
wavered between an anthological approach, observing and not
interrupting, and practically walking up to people asking if they
wanted to be my friend.
I knew that this Saturday offered an exceptional opportunity, as VHS
or Beta was performing at Headliners. I left on this mission hoping my
new hometown wouldn’t let me down, that Louisville could loosen up
this New England girl.
The crowd was eclectic and the sound was set perfectly too loud. I
watched lots of couples talking between themselves and cliques of
exceptionally short women dance with each other. A large man wearing
suspenders danced like mad next to me, and a woman wearing a synthetic
shirt with an almost fleur-de-lis like pattern on it, sipped her mixed
drink and wiggled.
Follow the Train began the night. They wore windbreakers, white
headbands and rings with electric blue LCD lights on them. Throughout
their set, one member threw butterscotch candies at the crowd, while
some slowly unzipped their jackets, revealing their chest hair. In the
background, they showed a workout style video of twin women belly
dancing. The audience was left to figure out what this all meant. Did
they want us to belly dance? Where they just going with a workout
theme? If so, how did candy fit in? In the end, I decided it was a
political statement about the Middle East: that music and dancing from
different cultures can come together, and even though it might be
awkward at first, it eventually grows on you.
Walter Meego balanced the jam-rock feel of Follow the Train. Whereas
FTT was a six-piece (the sixth member plays cowbell, tambourine and
floor tom) while Walter Meego was a three-piece (plus a computer).
Meego’s band were cute guys with a good energy, but their sound fell
flat. I felt that they were trying to go for a Rapture-type,
pop-techno punk, but they lack the scratchy vocals, good twangs of
noise and authenticity. They need a drummer or a producer to help give
them an edge.
By the time VHS or Beta took the stage, the crowd was prepared —
their belly-dancing moves were polished and they were ready to cut
VHS or Beta stepped into the light looking like rock stars. The lead
singer had amazing hair and was impossibly thin. Playing a hometown
show, I expected them to talk to us more, but they kept the banter to
a minimum. They apologized for taking so long to come back and play a
show at Headliners, told us how much they appreciated our support and
not to miss seeing them on "Late Night with Conan O’Brien" (The
performance of "Can’t Believe a Single Word" aired this past Monday
It was clearly important to them to tell us that they bleed red (as
an outsider, I had to ask someone what this meant). I danced and
clapped, simply following the cues of the natives. The songs all
sounded pretty similar, but because I liked the way they sounded and
how it encouraged my knee to bounce, I won’t complain. I drove home
(in my car with my out-of-state plates) pleased with the findings of
my study. Louisville, its bands and its venues hold their own compared
with the major shows of the north I use to regularly attend. VHS or
Beta is emblematic of the rock-star potential of this city.
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