Ministry of Fun

By Jon Garrett

The Juliana Theory might just take the cake for worst album with the best singles. Certainly they’ll win the prize for the 2003 calendar year. As good as the first two tracks on Love are, the subsequent 12 manage to sink the whole enterprise into the worst emo goo I’ve ever laid ears on. However, it would be a shame to hold their recorded output against them and miss this show, which also happens to be their CD release party. Live, the Theory completely shed their overproduced sound and unleash a fierce sonic beast, making their show a must-see proposition. Plus, after years of touring, frontman Brett Detar has mastered the fine art of stage presence, oozing rock star charisma with every strut and sinister growl. Their inability to commit their intensity to tape is about the only thing standing between them and arenas.

Vendetta Red, fresh off the sessions for their Epic Records debut, Between the Never and the Now, deliver a refreshingly raw, no-frills performance. Compared to their label-mates, Vendetta Red are on the harder end of the emo spectrum, calling to mind groups like Hundred Reasons or even a less avant-garde At the Drive-In. The downside, of course, could be their distinct lack of identity. (How many of these vaguely emo bands are presently filling out the major label rosters?) It will be interesting to see how or if they distinguish themselves from the pack. The tunes they showcase tonight should give some indication.

–Jon Garrett