of the savannah Calico MD have popped up at several shows in recent months, including a Savannah Stopover set, and at the Lodge of Sorrows with Buzzards of Fuzz and Bastardane. But just as they start to generate buzz, Calico MD prepares to take a short break while guitarist Tanner Hamilton embarks on a tour with his other band, Holy Ghost Tabernacle Choir.
Their opening slot for Crumbsnatcher and Teal Peel at the El Rocko Lounge on June 10 will be the last chance to check out this successful indie rock band.
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Led by vocalist/guitarist Kevin Block, Calico MD was born from the ashes of Too Much, his former band with Calico MD bassist Bradford Shields. Like many current bands in Savannah’s relatively small but tight indie rock scene, Calico MD shares personnel with other local bands. For example, while Hamilton is a drummer for the Holy Ghost Tabernacle Choir, guitarist Jake Givens plays bass in the math-rock metal band Hot Plate.
Each member brings their own unique flavor to Calico MD’s sound which has been described as a “blend of metallic and melodic tones, giving an atmospheric quality while being backed by a driving rhythm section”.
“With our band, I noticed an interesting Nirvana-esque approach to songwriting, because I know Kevin is expanding and contracting,” Shields said. “Like you have a quieter part and then you have a loud chorus. With the arrival of Tanner on lead guitar, Tanner plays a lot of metal, so his guitar playing has a hard edge. And Jake was in Hot Plate and they’re an amazing math rock metal band. It’s a beast.
Block, who moved back to Savannah recently after living in Philadelphia for a few years, writes most of the songs, but not without colorful input from his bandmates.
“I have more directed stuff,” Block explained. “Everyone adds their own stuff. We have two songs in our set that we’ve done since the Calico days, and I took a few from my Philly set. I like what everyone brings. Everyone has a different style, so I feel really comfortable. I find the right people in the right places.
As for influences, Block says he listened to a lot of ’80s music, especially Robert Palmer’s “Johnny and Mary.” Block’s own songs are often about the places he’s lived – Florida, Savannah and (for better or worse) Philadelphia.
“I didn’t really like Philadelphia,” Block said. “It was a fucked up time. I wrote about a guy who pulled over on the side of the street, screwed up on heroin, almost ran me off the road.
Calico MD has received a lot of support from Dog Days Presents, which recently booked shows and promotes Savannah’s indie rock community, but Block is happy that Calico MD are occasional strangers while they develop and refine their sound. .
“I kind of try not to play all the time,” Block said. “I feel like we’re on the outside a bit, which is really nice. We’re going to take some time, we’re going to rethink our set and we’re going to release something new in a few months.
Check out Calico MD as they open for Nashville’s Crumbsnatcher. Founded by frontman Samuel “Guetts” Guetterman, Crumbsnatcher takes its name from a derogatory term he learned during a year-long stint in a brutal church detention camp for minors when he was 16.
Fortunately, the nightmarish experience didn’t break Guetterman’s spirit or dull his sense of humor. Crumbsnatcher sounds like Pixies and Talking Heads played with the irreverent energy of the Beastie Boys. They describe their music as “infectiously immersive” with “a habit of crushing your inhibitions into a fine paste and then painting the word ‘Party’ on your brain with it.”
Jacksonville’s Teal Peel plays Pavement’s loose jangle, but fleshed out with horns and pedal steel. Savannah’s pop-punk alien super spies The Manarovs are still riding the wave of their excellent self-titled debut album.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
What: Dog Days presents Crumbsnatcher with Teal Peel, The Manarovs and Calico MD
When: Friday at 9 p.m.
Where: El Rocko Lounge, 117 Whitaker St.