Review: ‘The Caesars’

When a band is known almost exclusively on the basis of a single tune, it's not uncommon for casual fans to attend a gig purely to hear that song, responding tepidly to the remainder of a set -- or bailing outright after its airing. By all rights, the Caesars -- whose Stateside profile rests almost exclusively on "Jerk It Out," used in an iPod ad -- should've experienced just that at this Gotham gig.

When a band is known almost exclusively on the basis of a single tune, it’s not uncommon for casual fans to attend a gig purely to hear that song, responding tepidly to the remainder of a set — or bailing outright after its airing. By all rights, the Caesars — whose Stateside profile rests almost exclusively on “Jerk It Out,” used in an iPod ad — should’ve experienced just that at this Gotham gig.

On this evening, at least, perception and reality couldn’t have been further apart. Aud remained in perpetual motion for the duration of the quartet’s hourlong set, thanks in part to the onstage action centered around guitarist Joaquim Aklund, who did his best to replicate the demolition-derby spirit of Iggy Pop without sloughing off his six-string duties.

Perf’s early stretches were slathered in garage-rock grime, particularly the gnarled, bluesy wail “Over ‘Fore It Started” and the minor-chord-laden “Only You,” the latter redolent of Brian Jones-era Rolling Stones.

Unlike some of their peers, however, the band doesn’t come equipped with blinkers that prevent them from recognizing gems from outside the garage door, as evidenced by a revamped but respectful take on the Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry.”

Treatment of the “hit” was intriguing in that it was presented barely a third of the way into the set, but performed with gusto that belied that seeming intent to bury it. Singer Cesar Vidal, in fact, packed so many screams into the tune’s three minutes that he seemed to need a bit of a rest by the perf’s somewhat breathless final third.

There were clearly a goodly number of true believers in attendance, folks able to sing along with material dating back to the mid-’90s, when the band was still known as Caesar’s Palace. More importantly, however, novice listeners were drawn to the band’s merchandise tables, eager to delve into that history — which bodes well for its future.

The Caesars

Bowery Ballroom, New York; 500 capacity; $13

Production

Presented by Delsener Prods. Reviewed June 16, 2005.

Cast

Band: Cesar Vidal, Joaquim Aklund, David Lindquist, Nino Keller.
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