ROMANCE FORGERY ROCKS THE VINYL CLUB
by Charles Carreon
October 17, 2005
It takes hardware to rock, and more than just sound equipment. You need a bar with good, cheap drinks, a cool bouncer named Max, and some bands that’ll shake the fillings in your teeth. Oh, and a tiny little dancefloor where no one is more than twelve feet away from anybody else or the band itself. Gee, that perfectly describes the Vinyl Club on the last Sunday in September, where Romance Forgery played the second of two gigs in one night. I’d caught them earlier over at the A Street Marketplace, where Elena, the vocalist-songwriter who fronts the band, no doubt surprised some listeners who attended Craig Wright’s Katrina Benefit by singing in Spanish, very intensely, and with more emotion than many Ashland citizens are likely to feel in a week. That was fun to see, so after catching a few bluegrass tunes by Craig Wright & Friends, I migrated over to the Vinyl Club to hear Romance Forgery’s amplified set.
The show was opened by The Glossines, a San Diego power trio of regular chicks dressed in light blue waitress smocks splattered with red and aprons bearing the logo “Hell’s Diner,” who did real good in the three-chord monte department, getting the small crowd on its feet. With titles and refrains like “I Don’t Wanna Talk About You” and “I Don’t Think I Like You Anymore” tacked onto familiar girl-punk riffs and rhythms, these girls twirl the dial back to the days of fake IDs. They are welcome back to this town anytime.
Then for a shift in attitude and intensity, on came RF, and we moved from the garage to the stage, from fun to earnest, from packaged to unpackageable. Aaron Hoppe, lead guitarist, imposes his will on his instrument with samurai intensity. Elena loves to keep a strident rhythm with a clean tone wanging out of her sherbet-green electric. With Sean Rogers on upright bass, Andrew Barnes on the trap set, Romance Forgery fires up like an aircraft engine, lifting Elena’s vocal delivery outside ordinary ranges into an intense, hypnotic realm. Sometimes I was in the clouds, watching lightning flashing, other times I found myself walking under jolting powerlines dropping arcing cascades of sparks. I found myself confronted, provoked, pushed, pulled, compelled to witness frenesis, and then they let loose another type of magic. Dropping the tempo to a strolling pace, Elena swung into a slow Spanish number with the refrain “voy a perder” – “I will lose.” On this song, Elena’s voice is vulnerable, admitting in a foreign language what every latin lover knows – we will lose. To lose gracefully, lose everything.
In a little pre-show interview, I learned a few things about RF, an art-rock band with serious skillz. They will be doing some recording in Tucson, Arizona this fall with Soiled Gold, a media collective, and Loveland, Nathan Sabattino’s independent studio. They’ll also be playing at the renowned Rialto in Tucson on November 6th, the day after the Day of the Dead, a Mexican festival that is celebrated with particular fervor in Tucson. Since Romance Forgery hasn’t put out a CD yet, the Tucson hegira should help them cross that milestone. I think they’re ready to make the trip. — Carlos Ramone