Lieutenant Dance reminds me of a few of my all-time favorite Columbus bands, though fortunately Lieutenant Dan’s New Legs is not one of them. By virtue of its name, Rich Meara’s weird punk project can’t help but call to mind the execrable cover band that has been soundtracking corporate parties and insufferable patio bars for years. These guys don’t sound like that, though I’d certainly be interested in hearing their take on “I Gotta Feeling.”
Rather, Lieutenant Dance reminds me of The Hackled Ruff & Shoulder Mane-era Necropolis, the spazzed-out post-punks hyped up on old Ohio records by bands like Pere Ubu and Gaunt, yipping and yelping over curious chord changes to the point of popping veins. They remind me of Gaunt too, particularly the horn-inflected Gaunt of Kryptonite. Being strange and catchy and incorporating brass in a moderately populated Columbus rock bar will practically draw those connections for you, and that’s what Lieutenant Dance was doing last Wednesday at Ace of Cups.
It was keyboardist Laelia Delaney Davis’ birthday, and if that wasn’t enough reason to party, the band’s new 7-inches were ready for sale earlier than expected. So party they did, assuming ragtag experimental pop spasmodics are your idea of a party. (As someone who was wearing a Dismemberment Plan T-shirt at this show, I was into it.)
I imagine these guys are always enthused on stage, though; music this busy and dissonant demands it. Odd staccato and sax blasts don’t lend themselves to apathetic performance.
You can tell Meara plays drums in some of his other bands. These are his songs, recorded at home and brought to life by a six-piece band, and they sound like the work of someone who values rhythm more than melody. Not that Lieutenant Dance is bereft of hooks, it’s just sometimes hard to catch them flailing past you at impossible angles.
Songwriting, then, is not Meara’s forte. He’s an ideas man, and Lieutenant Dance is his means of rapid-fire dispersion. It ain’t revelatory, but it’s plenty rowdy, and sometimes that’s enough.