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July 09, 2007

7.7: Nunchucks, Let's French, Payola Reserve @ Iota (DC)

This was my first time at Iota Club and Cafe and I soon started kicking myself for never going there before.  This venue, while smaller than a breadbox, contained some of the best live music I had heard in a long time.  I have to be honest with you, I went to this show solely because I liked the names of the bands: The Nunchucks, Payola Reserve, and Let's French.  I'm a sucker for good marketing, what can I say?

Robots, zombies and ninjas oh my! The Nunchucks covered all of the basics.

Twangy, bluesy, and soulful, The Payola Reserve delivers its audience roots-rock satisfaction.

I sat at the bar, waiting patiently for the bands to start, not really knowing what I was in for. 
The Nunchucks took the stage and the minute their poppy/punk/Weezer-esque songs trailed through the garage-sized box we all stood in, I was hooked.  These guys covered everything, from robots to ninjas and even the Undead.   Anthony Soltes, Jr.  sang his uniquely timed lyrics while strumming  along to the band's catchy riffs and chords.  I could tell that this band did nothing in their free time but practice.  The thing I like about unsigned bands is that this is their life.  Granted, bands on the radio actually live the rock & roll lifestyle, but for these guys it's harder.  You can see them trying hard, but in this case it was to their advantage.  They took modern day (though trivial and tongue-in-cheek) problems and made them anthems for our generation.
The Payola Reserve came out and surprised me.  Considering the energy and spunk that The Nunchucks exuded, I was half expecting these guys to do the same.  I was pleasantly wrong.  Ben Pranger's voice twanged into the hearts of the audience as he shared the mike with his harmonica, adding hums where lyrics couldn't go.  Jamming guitars and slowish drum beats made this the perfect music for a car ride through the desert.  The combination of his voice with the bluesy rock melodies were a nice rewind to the days where soulful music superceded hip, hot radio edits.  These guys kept reminding me of someone I love to hear, but I couldn't put my finger on it until they closed their set with a Neil Young cover.  I would book this band to open for him on his next tour. 

Let's French: not only rockers, but gentlemen as well. Clapping, synthing, and jumping guitarists, this band is ready for the radio.

Let's French, now that's a name I could grow to love.  At one point in the set, my friend Ben turned to me and went "These guys aren't only good, but they're good entertainers."  It felt like a big arena rock show, though the audience wasn't as participative.  That's not to say they didn't try.  The lead singer, Randy Chugh, reminded me of the Strokes and the guitarists' clapping and swirling and jumping guitar stylings reminded me of the many pop/punk/rock bands already out there, although better.  I still maintain my "unsigned bands try harder" motto.  Let's French rocked the stage and held the gaze of their audience through quick drum beats and 50s-style "wooing."  "Here She Comes, There She Goes" was my favorite.  I could almost hear it playing on the radio among the ranks of Interpol, The Strokes, and Weezer. 

Please go listen to these three bands.  I wouldn't be surprised if I soon hear them through my car stereo on my commute to work.   

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The Payola Reserve

Thanks for the review! So glad you liked the set. We hope to be back in DC soon!


I like twangy and bluesy. The Iota sounds fun

Tyreeka Smith

You need to actually LISTEN to the bands, KNOW something about music in general and also take a few classes in journalism to know what you are talking about here. Nowhere do the nunchucks mention zombies or the undead. They get lucky if they practice once a week- they have the musical talents needed to make freakin rad music naturally. They are awesome and you are too self-righteous to be writing about them. Seriously though, listen next time, and if you can't produce a good review after that, quit this blog.

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