Blotto, WEXT rock Troy

When Dave Michaels introduced Exit Dome Three on Saturday at WEXT, he said both the station and head

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Click here for Gazette music writer Michael Hochanadel’s preveiw

When Dave Michaels introduced Exit Dome Three on Saturday at WEXT, he said both the station and headliners Blotto “dare to be different,” noting Blotto redefined what a band could be and WEXT’s commitment to playing local music. He was right on the money.

The different that openers Alta Mira dared to be was impressive and engaging as they played complex art- or prog-rock tunes, some in five or three, that throbbed and sweated like rock ‘n’ roll and with guitar solos built of burly chord strums. Joe Michon-Huneau sang like an instrument — a really amazing instrument — intimate in the serene “Red Red” and riding the beat confidently in two compressed waltzes near the end of their set.

Troubadour John Scarpulla followed, accompanied by guitarist Brian Schafer in burly, very New York City folk rock that roared like a ’57 Chevy in the street saga “Coney Island” and purred like a biker’s lullabye in “Let It Rain.” His road songs felt well-earned, but not bitter — a wide-screen view of what music-making in America means.

The Ashley Pond Band seemed ready to take over Nashville in the raucous rockabilly romp “Betty” and the cautionary “Wolfman” — the Nashville of the Patsy Cline and Wanda Jackson 1950s — and I mean that in the very best way. Pond’s voice was a marvel, at least, and Eric Halder’s guitar spit fire or seduced behind her.

Matt Durfee had a great teacher: He said he was self-taught, and he learned the guitar fireworks of Michael Hedges to stunning effect. In “Kid Gloves,” he surged from emphatic, hard-handed strumming to delicate finger picking and back. He urged listeners — the place was full — to sing his “As Good as Gold” as a Valentine, and it would serve very well.

Blotto took over to noisy acclaim, from both fans who remembered their 1980s heyday — and all their lyrics–and younger fans who got both the rock and the jokes right away.

Between “She’s Got a Big Boyfriend” and “I Wanna Be a Lifeguard” — and a megalomaniac encore of “Metal Head” — Blotto boomed through their patented rocking schtick, clearly having such a great time in their first show in a year and a half that everybody just had to do the same. Thicker and grayer — like their fans — they had no trouble proving there’s no joke like old jokes, but also punching out powerful rock ‘n’ roll through a hugely entertaining hour-long set.

Guitarist-singer Bowtie projected “Goodbye Mr. Bond” with cinematic authority, and singer Sergeant Blotto occupied the spotlight with real rock-star sizzle in the grandiose, melodramatic “My Baby’s the Star of a Driver’s Ed. Movie,” “Lifeguard” and “Metal Head” — with its flurry of false finishes — among other well-loved joke-rockers.

Hats off to WEXT for celebrating the past, present and future of Albany rock — and Blotto is arguably all three. The 30-minute sets by Alta Mira, John Scarpulla, the Ashley Pond Band and Matt Durfee made you want more of them in their own shows.

Categories: Entertainment

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