best new rock band since Winger

Border States: The final frontier

No, wait, Border States: Crossin' the by the of the jumpin'' the HAS no borders!...Yes!

by Dave McAwesome

I received an email from a friend of mine, one of New York's hot, young musicians, about the inaugural show of his band--not even a cover band, a real original band. I've known this guy a while now, so it's about time he proved his worth. If this show turned ugly, I might have to cull his name from Dave's List o' Friends. Plus, he'd likely want to point out that he's from New Jersey, not New York. Strike two, rockstar.

Cliff: Last-second update from (Editor's note: last name removed to protect budding rock god from ravenous groupies) HQ...

The alleged "rock band" I play in -- The Border States -- will prove our existence to the world, crawling out of the cave on Tuesday, Nov. 30, for our first ever show in the wild and hip borough of Brooklyn. See us at The Trash Bar (formerly Luxx) in Williamsburg at 9pm sharp. $6 gets you in -- plus lets you experience Trash Bar's PT Barnum-like marketing gimmick -- OPEN bar from 9 to 10pm...

The Trash Bar is located at 256 Grand St. between Driggs and Roebling. It's just steps away from the L train, conveniently located next to nothing.

Dave: Ah, yes. I've gotten trashed at Trash Bar. I'll bring my zippo. I look forward to throwing up the devil horns and shouting "Freebird." .....oh, jesus, that's in THIS, I may have an adventure of my own that evening. Perhaps I can do both. Or perhaps I can cancel the former. There are so many questions to answer, not the least of which is 'how many michelob ultras can I chug between 9 and 10?' ...if the answer is 'a lot', how will I ever get home? Can I throw fake hotel keys at the band? Will there be crowd participation during your cover of "Uncle John's Band"?

Border States logo
The band did not prepare flyers or paint any cool lettering on the bass drum, so I've prepared a kickass logo for them. Man, I've outdone myself. This logo makes me wanna rock all day and party e-ver-y night.

Dave's review: As it turns out, work interceded with my plans, forcing me to ditch my other Tuesday adventure. I screwed myself. Taking the train to Trash would have been a long, arduous trip...a journey with many 'legs,' whatever that means. I had to drive, so I couldn't drink. Well, maybe just one drink. But, you see, the point is I couldn't drink myself unconscious. A real shame, because had I been drunk off my gourd I could have written this review much more quickly. Drunken version: "There was a band playing?" Yes, so here we are back in the non-drunken version, and already the mood has turned sour. Frank, an otherwise upstanding member of Team Awesome, failed to show, citing an alleged pagan celebration of the birth of some member of his household. It may have even been his birth being celebrated (the real thing having occurred some years prior). It doesn't much matter, however. This unholy carnival cannot be confirmed to any degree and so must remain an unsolved matter in the history of American Letters.

The real crime here is that an otherwise upstanding member of Team Awesome declined to appear at this rather hip event in Hiptown, Brooklyn. Cliff was devastated. "Bullspit," he screamed. "His birthday was last month." He may have thrown a beer at my head at this point, but I was too wrapped up in my own calculations in an attempt to remember exactly when Frank's birthday was. Again, it is a detriment to the fields of American literature and journalism that we can never confirm this date. "Autumn" might be a good bet, but that is all. Cliff retreated to a dark recess of the bar, crying in the corner, the poor bugger. I could see that he was scribbling something between tear-soaked tissues. Changing the set list, no doubt. New additions included "Forsaken," "Why can't we be friends," and "Justify my love," and then it went into a string of mopey Morrissey tunes (post-Smiths). Not a pretty scene.

It was soon over, and we returned to happier conversations about Pabst Blue Ribbon and the mysterious KISS photos on the walls. Cliff offered me the opportunity to introduce the band, but I had to decline. As you know, I don't improv. I carefully craft my material over the course of several minutes. Secondly, I'm sure I would have screwed up the name of the band and called them "Cliff and the Clifftones," which in all honesty is a much improved moniker. "Death's Head" would also be acceptable.

Border States took the stage without any pomp or circumstance. Damn their eyes! No pomp and circumstance, indeed! That aside, the band was surprisingly competent. I use words like 'tight' and 'clean,' and if you've ever played live music, you can appreciate the difficulty of achieving a 'clean' rock sound. The difficulty is comparable to sitting a half dozen two-year-olds in a room and keeping them corralled in a 3' x 3' area without hitting each other. Right, good luck. (Now you understand the appeal of punk rock and death metal.) I can only describe the dual-guitar driven sound of Border States as a string of delicate gossamer holding together the petals of a fragile flower. As you might guess, this is not the sort of music I seek, perhaps I shouldn't end this sentence with a preposition...this is not the sort of music out which I seek. Yes, that's much, much worse.

The band's attire was pure, by the book alterna-cool. Guy in Buddy Holly glasses and hoodie (blue, no less). Cliff (to his credit) wore t-shirt and jeans. Another guy wore t-shirt, Docker's-type pants and brown shoes (classic college band style). Another in collared shirt. It doesn't get any more quintessential than that. For the life of me, I can't understand why there weren't more (or, for that matter, any) sexed-up, 19-year-old sorority types clawing at the stage.

Cliff's basslines were very good, a complement to the dulcet tunes of Border States, with hints of blackberry and rosewood. The steady percussion of Drummer Guy punctuated the dulcet rhythms with clockwork precision. The songs teased the audience with dulcet tonal intervals and soft vocals. The band was dulcet. Totally dulcet. In fact, if I had to assign a genre to Border States (as the bylaws of the Code of International Reviewers state I must), it would not be alternative rock, but "alternative pebble" (alterna-emo, perhaps), the same category belonging to such acts as Weezer and maybe Dave Matthews. That's not a back-handed compliment, mind you. After all, the world of alternative rock is now populated by awfulness like the current noodlings of the once-cool and now inappropriately named Metallica. Ah, the bylaws also state that I may create a mathematical equation to describe a band. Okay, here goes: (Dire Straits minus (number of their guitarists divided by two)) plus Weezer equals Border States. That was excellent. I should've been a mathematician--no, bandematician.

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle, according to no less of an expert than G.I. Joe. The other half, presumably, is showing up. Take note, Frank.

GROUPIE ALERT: For any New York-area readers, Border States is playing Trash Bar again on Tuesday, April 12. This is their second show ever. They will not likely be playing another "second show ever" in quite some time, so now's your chance to get your Border States street cred. (How's that, you ask? Whenever a friend mentions he/she likes a band, you sniff hautily and say, "pfft, I've been listening to Border States. You probably never heard of them: They've only played a few shows around the area." Or you can be even more abruptly and obviously a jerk by saying, "Pfft, I'm better than you because I listen to Border States." Try to get another "pfft" out there before your friend punches you in the face for being a prick.) Anyway, in my previous column about this band, I guess I failed in my attempt to change their name. They've got a new Web site, So the name's permanent now. Like herpes. Come on out to see 'em. They're very good (despite not being a punk band). Trash's address is in the above article somewhere. I'll probably be at the show. You can recognize me because I wear my sunglasses at night. Just like the Corey Hart song (obligatory 80s music reference--sorry). But seriously, unless you're a hot, single girl or handing out free beer, I really don't care to meet you. Unless you have friends who are hot, single girls or are handing out free beer. Then we should talk. About your friends.

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