More than these: Ten Year Vamp at Bayou
Ten Year Vamp
Café, April 29
Spillenger’s Bayou Café is by far the finest nightclub on
Pearl Street, besting Jillian’s, the Skyline, and all others
in Albany’s little Bermuda Triangle with killer grub, a smashing
sound system, gobs of live music and sexy-ass regulars who
liquor up and boogie down nightly.
Normally, I avoid these things like minefields, but I was
intrigued by Ten Year Vamp, who regularly pack such hothouses
from here to the Big Apple with their raucous, high-protein
attack. So, deep into those badlands I slunk to see for myself
whether it was live or Memorex, and two songs into the night
the answer was clear.
white-hot and endlessly attacking the downbeat from the gun,
the band delivered, and I pressed my head to a nearby wedge
as to feel their murderous telltale heartbeat. Drinks were
spilled. Souls were lost. I stood at stage left, gleefully
getting my ears fried into chips by guitarist Pete Vroman’s
dual 4-by-12s as the band caught more air than Blink 182 backing
David Lee Roth on a McDonaldland trampoline. Vamp cofounder
Mark Rose hoisted his six-stringer high as Tim Keenan (one
of the finest working bassists around) nailed them all to
the wall behind drummer Scott Card’s unflappable meter. And,
of course, you have leading lady Debbie Gabrione. Sure, Gabrione
is a looker, a prime selling point for the band, but she doesn’t
flaunt her sexuality in a manner that diminishes the primacy
of her dream-soaked voice. Thank God. Like the pagan Queen
Mab, she plats the manes of her horses in the night with toasts
and promises and a sort of reassuring elemental satisfaction.
The throng swooned on the hardwood, cursing their ancestors
for not bestowing such talents upon them as the band hand-delivered
both a slew of covers (from vintage Tom Petty to the Black-Eyed
Peas) and promising original goods like “Rockstar” and the
iridescent “Fall,” the latter both endearing yet perhaps unintentionally
capturing the human blindness to culpability, of promises
made that can never be guaranteed. “If you give me the chance,
I can give you the world,” Gabrione wailed to the heavens,
as if despite her sincerity she quietly suspects it can’t
possibly be so. Her lexis is refreshing because it sounds
so goddamn there, so pragmatic, and yet the LCD can
still derive whatever commercially appealing message is needed
to justify the next round of shooters.
During the second set, I noticed I was being cased by a redhead
with a Ten Year Vamp bumper sticker on her ass. She alternated
between eyeballing me and fixating on Gabrione’s rump as she
shook it to Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar I’m Going Down,” arms akimbo,
ripping open the salty oxygen of the Bayou in her combat fatigues.
“I love you Debbie!” the girl would scream. Then she would
look back at me, but not with bedroom eyes. “Are you going
to stand here for the whole night?” she finally asked, the
implication being that she deserved my front-row spot, because
she was in fact sexy, and I, decidedly not sexy, had
no real business being at the front of this sexy game farm,
blinded by the blessed sheen of Vroman’s Les Paul. What else
can you do? You look her right in the eyes, and you hit her
with mordant, one-word questions, offered like statements:
I was just, you know, wondering, you know . . .” she stammered.
I held her gaze until she shrunk away. People are such assholes.
Later she returned and asked if I was with the local newspaper
because she was a photographer and would love to send me some
pictures. Christ almighty.
Of course, TYV’s bread and butter is (and must be) cut from
the reliable cloth of such harmless party-hards, of people
with stickers on their asses, who actually show up to a downtown
bar in formal wear, mouthing the lyrics to “Kryptonite” it
its entirety. Thankfully, there is a tough circuitry beneath
the Vamp, a talent, a rockets’ red glare that should ebb past
the cover circuit given time and (someone else’s) money, because
their original material is maturing and their radiance is
infectious. Why, I was even inspired to help an alcohol-poisoned
student drag his unconscious lady friend up Columbia Street
on my way home. She bled on my AC/DC hoodie and barfed in
my car, but that’s hardly the point.