March 26, 2010 – Polkadot Cadaver (Baltimore, MD) consists of Todd Smith on Vocals, Jasan Stepp on Guitar, David Cullen on Bass, and Keith Thomas on Drums. They are very much like the Phoenix that rises out of the ashes of an excellent band named Dog Fashion Disco. Thomas is not the original drummer from their recordings, and I heard from multiple sources that the band seems to suffer from Spinal Tap drummer syndrome, but I could not confirm that with the band.

Polkadot Cadaver at Bernie's Distillery

Polkadot Cadaver at Bernie's Distillery

My night started at Panini’s Bar and Grille, a member of a chain of restaurants I had the pleasure of going to up in Cleveland. Going into the joint I was charged five dollars. Confused, I let the door guys know that I was really there for a sandwich, to which he replied, “Yeah, but all beers are only a dollar, and all liquors are two dollars.” I thought, well hell, I’ll pay the five and get my monies worth out of the beer. As I ascended the stairs I found that the place was very open but lacking in service. I went up to the bar to find out about the sandwiches and was promptly notified that I’d have to order and come back to pick them up at the bar. When I asked them if I could get a Guinness for a dollar, I was also saddened to find out that the every beer for a dollar was a total farce. Only domestics fit the bill and on top of that the drink special didn’t start for another 15 minutes. My sandwich appeared at the bar eventually, and it was nothing like the awesomeness of the Cleveland Panini’s sandwich which I had previously enjoyed. But I digress; this is not the place for food or pub reviews. I will say this however, the service sucked and the sandwich was less than. We now continue on to the music.

Bernie’s Distillery is a creepy bar, but a wonderful place to check out punk music. I’d say it has to be in the top ten of worst bar bathrooms, I’m pretty sure the stalls there haven’t been cleaned since the first opening of the bar. I’m also pretty sure that the cure for cancer is growing in one of those bathrooms. It’s fun to look around and see five air fresheners that have all given up. The smell still broke through and was seeping down the hall.

The opening bands were all relatively good. I would make a special note of the band Ideamen (Chicago) with Tim Swanson, former keyboardist of Dog Fashion Disco (Baltimore, MD). They had amazing harmonies, and I hope that they find a chance to come back to Columbus. Then Polkadot took the stage. The sound check was pretty quick. If you’ve been to Bernie’s, you’ll know that there is really much sound to check. The place could really use an upgrade on the sound system. Smith spent some time assuring that the vocals were up to his liking in the monitors and then they jumped into their first song, “A Wolf in Jesus Skin.” The crowd exploded into a frenzy with fast moshing and slamming into each other.

Todd Smith of Polkadot Cadaver singing into the microphone at Bernie's Distillery

Todd Smith of Polkadot Cadaver singing into the microphone at Bernie's Distillery

By the second song, which seemed to be a crowd favorite and title track of their debut album, “Purgatory Dance Party,” the audience was singing along and Smith was holding the microphone over the audience. When the song came to a close Smith commented that the crowd reminded him “of the Animal House toga party, except there were too many clothes.” Smith had wonderful crowd interaction skills as he knew just how to get them cheering and moving along with him. At one point in the show he remarked, “I feel like I owe you money,” to which the crowd cheered, “You do!” He simply retorted with, “I don’t owe you shit!” And the crowd came back with a simple, “Yeah!” The whole place had a feel good feeling with an edge of aggression that could be easily be taken out on the floor in front of the band.

The rest of the songs were just amazing, mixing the prerecorded samples with the slick guitar licks of Stepp and the thick bass lines of Cullen, who looks amazingly like a certain former member of Nirvana, but I wouldn’t suggest saying this to his face as many close to the band commented that he, “get’s that lot, and doesn’t take it too well.” Every song came out wonderfully and just about floored me. The only exception was “Chloroform Girl”. For some reason Smith’s vocals seemed to be just a bit off in this song, and this is a song really worth checking out in it’s own beautifully dark and peppy way. I only say that noting that the other nine Polkadot Cadaver songs they did were excellently sung. After their set, they brought up Swanson to play some songs from Dog Fashion Disco. These songs were pretty cool.

Talking to the members of Polkadot Cadaver, I found out that they are planning on writing music in the next few months for the band and could potentially have a release shortly thereafter, but this might get pushed back if the new project, Knives Out! featuring Stepp, Smith, and Cullen, gets signed to a major label and starts touring.

Polkadot Cadaver can be found on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/polkadotcadaver, and their album “Purgatory Dance Party” (2007) can be purchased through iTunes.

-V-