In this line of work, we often discover bands in a multitude of ways — publicists send us stuff on bands we might like; maybe a friend introduces you to a band you might dig; in some cases you catch of interest while covering one band; and occasionally maybe a musician friend introduces you to another musician friend. In the case of the Mexico City-based quartet, the Oats, I actually met a couple of the members of the band while I was covering a show at the Charleston during the Northside Festival back in June.
After a lengthy series of conversations on music, live performance and the show we were seeing, I found the young men that comprised the Oats to be charming — yes, men can be charming after all — and to be earnest and sincere about their passion for music. They noted to me on numerous occasions that because they sing their songs in English that they’ve had some difficulty getting radio play back in the native Mexico, despite the fact that they got a lot of love during their live shows. As it turned out these young men took a big chance and moved to New York to try to make it big as musicians, and on their own terms. And admittedly such dedication and such risk is truly admirable. After all, how many people would be willing to take those kinds of risks to do what they love?
I had been invited to a couple of their sets and wasn’t able to catch them because of other obligations but I finally was able to catch them at an old favorite haunt for live music, Arlene’s Grocery.
Live, their sound reminded me a bit of Nirvana, Weezer and other bands from the grunge rock mad early to mid 90s but with a sense on offbeat sense of humor about themselves that took a little while for the audience at Arlene’s to actually get. Then again, audiences at Arlene’s Grocery are often quite odd because crowds tend to only show up for their friend’s sets and then they head to the bar or to other neighborhood bars afterward. I’ve never seen anyone stay for more than one set — and hell, I know that I’ve never stayed for more than one set.
The Mexico City-based quartet’s material struck me as being fairly well written but suffered a little bit from the fact they sounded very similar and were along the same emotional vein. But even with that minor flaw they kicked ass and did so with aplomb. They won over a rather uneasy crowd with their humor and energy, and it was a fun, high energy set. Sonically, they have may to branch out a bit or change their sets up a little bit, but they will win over crowds with their humor and earnestness — especially in an age of overwhelming irony.
For these photos and the rest of the photos from this set of music, check out the Flickr set here: