The Damnwells rock at the Momo.
CafÃ Montmartre may reckon itself a Parisian throwback, but the silent crowd, sweat-glistening band and deep-fried rock 'n' roll turned it into dusty saloon on Thursday night as The Damnwells transported their respectful and infatuated audience.
The Brooklyn-based foursome began the show in alt-country mode, the wail of twangy electric guitar conjuring sunset-saturated canyons. After a short detour into driving power pop, their musical journey took on a familiar pattern as it meandered between peaks of pensive masterpieces ("Kung Fu Grip Kiss," "I Will Keep the Bad Things from You") and valleys of less captivating pop rock ("Louisville").
Front man Alex Dezen crooned like a sensitive cowboy making false promises to an abused lover. Contorting himself like a character in the Matrix, Dave Chernis flexed backwards and channeled every ounce of himself into satisfying, economical soloing on electric guitar and pedal steel. And despite buzzing snare feedback, Steven Terry's drumming was impeccably strong, tight, intricate, and disappointingly hidden from view.
Ballads were attacked with mesmerizing earnestness, as if the spit of the muse still lingered on the tongue. Conversely, some of the harder rock songs fell off course, with noisy performances attempting to cover for noticeably lackluster execution. At times, this juxtaposition of styles interfered with the cohesion of the set, but the band's showmanship and musicality outshone the glare of a few missteps.
More information about the band is available at MySpace page.