HOLLY GOLIGHTLY + the Woggles @ El Salon

By Paul Brown - The Go-Go Radio Magic Show - 07/18/2005

The great thing about not knowing the opening band is the ability to find a new love. This is exactly what happened last Monday night. The Woggles were a band whose name may be more familiar than their music. In fact, there were many conversations in line with people trying to find out info on the opening act. The only wisdom that could be shared was “uh, they’re from Georgia”.

The Woggles took to the stage with the Professor (lead singer), Dan Elektro (drummer) and the Flesh Hammer (guitar) all sporting fantastic fuscia tuxedo shirts, complete with ruffles. Lady Fingers (bass) complemented them in her ultra-cool go-go dress and boots combo. Clearly, the crowd was in for something special. With a quick intro and a joke, the Professor jumped into the air and the band was off, cranking out their own brand of 60's garage rock/boogaloo, one that has won them fans including Jack White and Little Steven Van Zandt. Think the Sonics' mix of garage rock and screamin’ soul, but hailing from the same fertile waters that gave birth to Little Richard, James Brown and Ray Charles.

Burning through the first song, it seemed like human forms of Jim Henson’s genius muppets were performing for the rather stunned crowd, who weren’t sure what to expect, but definitely up for the ride. During the second song, "Get Tough", the Professor leapt off the stage, taking the show to the floor. Singing and dancing among the audience, he raised their status from “opening act” to “tough act to follow”. Shortly into the set, the bass fell apart, literally. A screw had fallen out and the show was halted, forcing Dan Elektro to point out that this was “a worst-case scenario”. After a fruitless search, Lady Fingers decided it was better to go on with only three strings than no bass at all. Once again, the Professor was back in the audience, pulling out all his best James Brown moves during the R&B-charged "Push". Before long, the band whipped the crowd back into a frenzied, dancing mass.

The Professor had just gotten back on stage when he sent Lady Fingers out to “take her bass for a walk”. The singer and the Flesh Hammer soon joined her, turning the dance floor into a sort of Dr. Tongue’s 3D House of Go-Go. Advancing and retreating through the masses, it was like the most rocking version of theatre that one could hope for. Rock 'n roll sometimes needs a little show biz mixed in and the Woggles combined the two perfectly. In a just world, they would have been household names a long time ago, but somehow have managed to fly under the radar for quite some time. No doubt, for those who didn’t know the Woggles prior to the show, they’re likely to remember them the next time they’re talking about best live performers.

The energy was high by the time Holly Golightly and her band took the stage, but how would they follow such an amazing opening act ? The answer came slowly and acoustically, shifting gears from a high-ball to a cup of tea with lemon. With the room in her hands, Holly announced that they hadn’t done a sound check or prepared a set list for the show, which only became a problem when they were five songs into the show. A recurring theme and sound in all the songs chosen made it feel a bit repetitive. It seemed that their desire to not play the same set every night -- to keep the show fresh for themselves -- came at the expense of the crowd. No doubt about it, Holly Golightly is a very talented songwriter with an incredible voice and an amazing band backing her up. There were even moments when one could compare some of her anti-love and breakup songs to Tom Waits, but there were just too many of them and not enough Waits-isms between the songs. The impression caused by this attempt at improvising would have been a disappointing end to what had started as an excellent night of live music. And then Holly came out for two encores, which turned the whole thing around.

Returning to the stage accompanied by only a single guitar, she did a sassy take on Hattie Hart’s blues classic "I Let My Daddy Do That" and then was joined by the full band for an intense performance of "I Had A Dream". Both these songs proved that Holly Golightly is deserving of all the acclaim she has received. One can only hope that the next time she passes through Montreal, her show will be as focused and charged as her finale.

[Tune in to The Go-Go Radio Magic Show Fridays midnight - 2am]