Moment of Truth 

Jesus Palomino

When Jesus Palomino opened their set on a recent Wednesday night at the Hard Rock Café, the band's first song contained the two elements of current, mainstream hard rock that I most disapprove of. First, the song was slow and heavy. I'm of the belief that if you're going to play hard you should also play fast or at least have some extreme dynamics in the song. But music that sounds like a Tyrannosaurus Rex stomping puts me to sleep every time. Second, the lead singer employed the same affected, over-emotive vocals that have been destroying mainstream rock for almost a decade now. But that's criticism of a genre, not a band. Besides, people who have grown up on that vocal style without much exposure to older mainstream rock or non-mainstream alternatives think that's the way you're supposed to sing.

That said, Jesus Palomino had a good command of their sound, even though I disapprove of the sound, and displayed a more varied style than their conventional hard-rock opener suggested. Despite my qualms, this four-piece rock band has a lot going for it. Musically, the band was anchored by its two newest members, lead guitarist Geoff Blair and a lanky, long-haired bassist whose name I didn't catch. The bassist contributed a dexterous, rumbling low end to most songs that was quite effective, and Blair may be the most talented guitarist I've encountered through this column, albeit in a techie, Guitar World sort of way. Both of those players occasionally contributed vocals, sometimes joining lead singer Chris Wilhite for a three-vocalist approach, which made for a nice contrast. And the band's overall sound was very clean.

In addition to the standard commercial hard rock, the band played a few Pink Floydish numbers (which may well have been Pink Floyd covers -- I'm not sure) and ended with a melodic song in a more standard mainstream rock vein. Other than the change in styles, no individual songs really stood out, which may have partly been the result of a sound mix at the Hard Rock that made Wilhite's vocals unintelligible.

The Hard Rock Café made good on its name on this "up- and-comers night" sponsored by new local rock station 94.1 The Buzz (which was giving away free tanning time as a promotional prize), but I must say that it's a really weird place to see live music. All the lights were on, everyone was noshing on burgers, and the sound was way too loud for the relatively tiny room, all of which made for an oddly disconcerting experience. -- Chris Herrington

The Memphis Flyer reviews local bands on demand. To schedule your group's Moment of Truth, call Chris Herrington at 575-9428 or e-mail him at herrington@memphisflyer.com.

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