As an American, I’ve seen my share of people rock a fuckin’ basement, but few have rocked one harder than Valley Lodge did last night at Union Hall. For one, their frontman Dave Hill, also known for putting funny things on the internet and on paper (Tasteful Nudes), was wearing a floral brooch. Nobody wears a floral brooch on stage when they’re insecure about their rocking abilities. The other two axmen were sporting colorful jeans (white and yellow). Good enough.
Their self-titled album, released in 2005 and then re-released in 2008 by a Japanese record label, is loaded with classics. Valley Lodge is actually super huge overseas (“This next hit’s a real panty-dropper in Japan,” Hill introduced one song) from having toured there a few years ago. Meanwhile, they’ve picked up some acclaim in the States the way most rock bands do it nowadays—a bunch of their songs have been used in commercials for pick-up trucks and fast food.
My favorite of their jams, “Hey,” has sincere heart-melting power that’s only intensified from seeing Hill flip his hair around and do that Elvis thing with his knees. “Hey, little girl / I’m a little person / Tell me bout your world / tell me you’ve been hurting” is the battle cry of timid mole people like me. It’s pure inspiration, and features a great guitar solo. Actually, all the songs have great guitar solos, which are really impressive given the fact that Hill is, indeed, a little person, and his guitar is massive compared to his body. To reach around that thing and still maintain such dexterity is a feat unto itself.
Comprised of a couple band mates Hill knew from earlier days—John Kimbrough, Phil Costello (yellow pants), and Rob Pfeiffer—they’re still holding on like champs. “We’re at the peak of our powers, and this is the time of our lives where we should be doing this,” he explained between songs. “We’re like The Beatles for 40-year-olds.” Whatever that means, they’ve definitely got reason to be up there. One of the weird games I like to play at rock shows is to count how many of the band members have rings on their left hands. If the number is less than “all of them,” they definitely need to keep rocking.
“We have nothing to sell tonight, but that’s not what it’s about,” began another banter betwixt songs. “We will have intercourse with anyone interested. Actually, no—we have preexisting conditions preventing us from doing that.” Still, the idea was there.
“I sing with my lips against the microphone, and it’s like I’ve made out with the lead singer of every band,” explained Hill. “Some people work their whole lives for that.”
Of course, there came a time for Valley Lodge to cease rocking for the night. Then some horn players from a new band called Bright Moments, a Beirut spinoff project, went up on stage and started playing, which totally shifted the mood, but it was cool. So cool, they’ll probably get featured in a car commercial someday.