Sean Yseult's latest band is finding out what it can do.
It took a couple of songs and a spilled drink for Star and Dagger's set at One Eyed Jacks to catch fire. The band is the brainchild of Sean Yseult, Donna She Wolf from Cycle Sluts from Hell, and Marci Hesseling, and it's rounded out by now-full time member Dave Catching from the Eagles of Death Metal and drummer Gene Trautmann, former drummer for Queens of the Stone Age, and during an early number, Catching felt something wet on his back. It was a drink that fell off his amp, but he thought it was thrown, and whether that motivated him or the band coincidentally fell into something heavy, the groove tightened and became more muscular, and the energy became more engaging. Before that, everything worked; after that moment, it all worked better.
Star and Dagger were opening for St. Vitus, and as the band's EP In My Blood demonstrates, its almost (almost!) retro in its love of blues-based metal, down to a Blue Cheer cover. It's still a relatively young band, having only played 10 or so shows before last night. Currently, they're on tour with Down, and you could see the effect of being part of a touring unit on the band. Yseult is often implacable onstage, but she often broke into unself-conscious smiles at the fun they were obviously having.
Thinking about Star and Dagger next to Yseult's other project - Rock City Morgue - raised a thought I'd been chewing on about fandom. Fans invest themselves in the bands they like, and to some extent they live their rock 'n' roll lives through their favorite bands. Usually, they want to see their favorite bands grow in popularity so that the experience will be bigger and more communal and more dynamic. If nothing else, they want to be able to say that they were in on the ground floor. Once it becomes clear that a band has become all that it will become - as has happened with Rock City Morgue, I'd argue - the band doesn't become less talented or the songs less satisfying, but it becomes less of a priority. Take away the on-the-rise narrative and a show becomes another good time like the last time and the time before that. Details may change or a new member may liven things up, but the big picture remains the same.
Last night made me wonder if that's also true for bands, and if there's a difference in the experience for them between being in a touring band trying to win over audiences (again, in the case of the members of Star and Dagger) and living the life of the gentleman (or gentlewoman) musician, playing gigs periodically in their town and occasionally doing short tours to play to pre-sold audiences. The energy and palpable feeling of fun last night probably answered that question.