Photo by David Topping.
As far as picking memorable band names go, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin may be on to something. Right up there with I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness as the best independent-clause-turned-band-name, the Missouri band — in town last night with Chicago’s Chin Up Chin Up at Sneaky Dee’s — has received almost as much attention for their name as for their music. The choice to announce their affection for a former Russian President, however, was not an attention-grabbing move, nor a carefully-deliberated one; instead, drummer Philip Dickey thought up the band name “when I went to the mall with my mom in high school. Then I told it to the other guys and they laughed because it was dumb.” Acronymically, or for people who dislike mom-approved band names, they are known as SSLYBY.
For a band that doesn’t seem to hold themselves in particularly high esteem (they proclaim on their website that they are, after all, only the “third best band on Weller Street in Springfield, Missouri”), SSLYBY have one terrific album under their belt — 2005’s Broom, remastered and re-released by Polyvinyl Records in 2006 — and are slowly and steadily accumulating fans thanks in part to music blogs like The Catbirdseat, whose tiny label Catbird Records released a split E.P. with the band and Michael Holt, the keyboardist of The Mommyheads.
The music is as memorable as the name: SSLYBY have a knack for hooks, likeable melodies, and a kind of rough, untidy rock and roll sound that is always bordering on pop. One of the band’s best tracks, “I am Warm and Powerful,” starts off lurching forward but begins to break apart at about the minute mark, as the tempo quickens, hand claps majestically appear, and Cardwell sings, on top of it all: “We don’t get out / very much / We don’t get out / very much / I’m afraid we’re loosing touch with our balled up little crowd / When we get out and get drunk / and we get high and don’t talk / We just walk and walk and walk until we find ourselves alone / But at least we’ve got each other.” Catchy doesn’t even begin to define the moment.
Unfortunately, “I am Warm and Powerful” as well as much of the band’s material went unheard last night, as time restrictions kept their set to a disappointingly short thirty minutes and held headliners Chin Up Chin Up to not much longer — the two big draws of the three-and-a-half hour night sandwiched between three other bands. In spite of their too-brief performance, SSLYBY didn’t seem too bothered; it’s hard to image a band named in a mother-son day at the mall flipping out over getting cut short.
Chin Up Chin Up’s meticulous, jittery, and polished multi-layered soundscapes (which sounded even better live than on their records) played by dudes somewhere in their thirties providing a distinct contrast and interesting counterpart to SSLYBY’s stripped down rock and roll played by guys who met six years ago at a high school Super Bowl party (true story). As Dickey puts it, his band plays “copycat rock and roll. I mean, I think our songs sound personal…and only like us…but it’s not like we’re doing anything new with rock and roll, you know?” Maybe not. But while SSLYBY’s last appearance in Toronto in September saw a crowd of less than thirty people show up, this time elbow room was hard to find for their set — even more impressive considering that the show was only added and confirmed about a week ago.
Copycat or not, it seems that more and more people are falling in love with the third best band on Weller Street in Springfield, Missouri. As anyone who’s heard them can tell you, it’s pretty hard not to.
More photos from the concert are available in the concert’s Flickr set. You can (and totally should) listen to a few tracks (“I am Warm and Powerful,” “House Fire,” “Oregon Girl,” and “Lower the Gas Prices”) on the band’s MySpace.