and Spice and Everything Nice do not a Rock Band make...
Review by Jon Dunmore © 28 May 1995.
lighting, black walls and a cloudy fuzz surrounding your
temples and peripheral vision - yes, Luna Park has a vibe
all right: Hell's Kitchen, on standby to cater to North
America. Into the morass I rolled; swirling dark sounds
and a zeppelin-figured MC sycophanting himself onstage.
I didn't like this place, therefore Plan B was put into
effect; Plan B being "Get As Drunk As You Can, My Old
...Seven beers into the boring night (or was it eight beers,
two bands and endless filibusters to save the freakin' rainforest?),
The Chaneys took the stage (well, it wasn't as bold as all
that; they sorta slunk around whistling, made a grab for
it, got caught taking the stage and were told to put it
It was a pity their set was placed amidst this plethora
of acoustic slash rock slash artful dodgers all blindly
groping for a politically-correct stance on the environment,
teenage sex, the indomitability of the human psyche and
other riotous issues, as this definitely cast a certain
moody air over The Chaneys' decidedly boppy proceedings.
Matt Singer, Dave George and John DeMaria front The Chaneys,
vocally and instrumentally. A triple-guitar, triple-vocal
concoction that is extremely well done, sometimes to the
point of overkill.
The a cappella harmony intro was tighter than a nun's
proverbials and woke up at least the first three rows and
even some of the fashion-drunk patrons flicking cockroaches
off the back wall. Such a pitch-perfect prelude would be
termed "soaring harmonies" by the New York Times
set; that is only half the story - The Chaneys take their
soaring onto "wind-swept," "sugarcoated,"
"lambchops with garlic," and "The Andrews
Sisters Meets The Brady Kids."
With that effervescent sound and the Mama's Boy look to
match, one wonders why the band would name itself after
Lon Chaney. The epithet is supposed to impart The Chaneys'
diversity, as they supposedly emulate The Man of 1000 Faces
in a musical milieu. Not sure which dictionary they were
reading, but after the first two songs, I could hardly tell
where one unmemorable song ended and the next unmemorable
song began. Desert Highway, sounding more like America's
Ventura Highway than it reasonably should, was one
of the few high points in a set overrun by mundanity.
The Chaneys have excellent voices and a proficient playing
caliber, yet despite their prowess at those three-part harmonies,
there was no spark of relevancy to this exercise. Even though
they retain elements of Kansas, Squeeze and Crosby, Stills
and Nash, the songs themselves lacked real guts.
While viewing a live band, something has to grab you and
shake, till your brain rattles and your adrenaline cascades
- nothing to do with a band's proficiency or style. If a
band does not inspire more than an ambivalent comment, they
have failed. The Chaneys seem sincere in their efforts to
entertain (as demonstrated by their wispy attempts at onstage
camaraderie), yet all that remained in my round little head
was some slippery, mind-warping memory of those syrupy,
cheese-and-onion vocals. How much of those same intervals
can one endure before they transmogrify into blandness and
inspire the visceral lust to grumble raw flesh?
Bassist, Shawn Richkind, was relegated to the unpopular
stage position directly behind one of the two gloss-black
steel girders which effectively make the Luna Park stage
look half its actual size. After all the band arguments,
it is always the bassist, keyboardist or percussionist that
winds up obscured by these supposedly structural - yet,
I suspect, merely pathetically art-unconscious - obstacles.
Drummer, Ed Mongillo, was simply sensational. The fluidity
of his playing was a prominent feature and a welcome focus,
when the ebullience of the vocalizing threatened to make
your eyeballs spin.
A banner above the Luna Park stage proclaimed, The New Music
Scene. They must be reading that same frabjulicious dictionary,
as I heard nothing "new" tonight - from any
band. Rather, The Cyclic Music Scene, as we
try to force this rehashed hippie-shit down the present
generation's throats, all the while assuring them that it
is indeed New and Improved and Guaranteed to help you Meet
The Chaneys tout themselves as "the changing face of
music," but unless they back up that self-accolade
with either Real Change or more tongue-in-cheek, they threaten
to come off as pretentious as the art-poets who wail about
saving rainforests yet who would never give up their flushing
toilet for all the endangered squirrels in Brazil.
I was spirited away from Luna Park in a swamp-green automobile,
and to this day I do not know whether it was the sugary-sweet
music or the excessive alcohol intake which encouraged me
to orally convert the interior to the same color as the
I give The Chaneys the benefit of the doubt...