On Saturday afternoon I was perusing Asbury Lanes’ schedule of events when I laid eyes upon the digital flier of the evening. In Hartford Whalers blue and Green the headline read Richmond Variatease! Twirl-O-Rama…Live Burlesque! I enjoy long legs and cleavage as much as the next heterosexual male so of course I studied the poster, my gaze jumping from Doll Holliday, over to Boo Boo Darlin’, then to Run Around Sue, and finally down to the bottom right hand corner of the page.
For the past few weeks, people embedded within our thriving music scene have raved to me about a three piece that’s been tearing through the Garden State’s various hot beds and it was in this corner of flier where the band’s name was printed in miniature font: It read Kid Is Qual, and I had struck gold.
What tickled my fancy For Kid Is Qual were not the sparkling reviews, bands supporting bands is nothing new in this community, but the lack of a description associated with said analyses. “I don’t know how to describe them,” is what I would be told upon entering a conversation about this act, “but they’re fucking great.” My interest was piqued, I needed to experience Kid Is Qual for myself, and Asbury Lanes afforded me such a venue.
Kid Is Qual is fronted by the diabolical bassist Jonathan “Dr. J” Sullivan, and if that name sounds familiar it’s because he used to pluck strings for Jack’s Mannequin. It was headline news when Dr. J officially departed from Jack’s Man on the 28th of last month, and I have to admit, after what I witnessed on Saturday night, I’m glad he made the move, and he assured me it was on good terms.
“It was clean break up,” said Sullivan, “I’ve known those guys for years. They’re my brothers. Musically, we just started moving in different directions.”
The fruits of that split is a form of robotic Rock N’ Roll unlike anything I’ve ever heard. These aren’t your daddy’s talk box accompanied, Peter Frampton-esque jams, nor is it Daft Punk the rock band, it’s something new.
Without any computer accompaniment, or cranial accessories, Kid Is Qual leads an electrified assault on the dance floor, exhibiting a two-pronged bass assault led by the good Doctor on lead and his partner in picking Mike Bryant, formerly of Alabama Thunderpussy, as a wing man.
Setting the tone from his throne is the beat master behind the basses, Chris McClish. This man is a living, breathing, drum machine capable of churning out quintessential club beats as well as more intricately constructed, yet undeniably danceable, backbone pieces.
Although playing second bass to Dr. J, Bryant performs the integral role of the shaker of rumps. His heavy bass lines get the people moving and transformed a timid crowd of head bobbing rock show patrons into a rowdy bunch of fist pumping, body grinding, Jersey Shore wannabes, and I mean that in the best way possible.
And as for Sullivan, he should change his nickname to Dr. Robotnik (Sonic The Hedgehog is my) for it would better convey the idea of his androidal vocal work. He has also transformed his bass into an audio volcano. The sound waves that erupt from it are not the thumps, pops, and moans of a conventional bass, but a bombardment of sizzling, laser guided, lava bombs that exploded on the lanes spraying pins in all directions.
When Qual left the stage to recharge its batteries, the Richmond Variatease! performers filled the space beautifully, but not for too long as the band would play another three song set through the burlesque troop’s intermission. It included a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance,” as well as this next number in which Qual was assisted by the dazzling Run Around Sue. Check it out:
Before exiting the stage for the final time Sullivan conjured the spirits of punks who played before him and became possessed, unstrapping his scarlet bass, and slamming it down before ripping the strings off and leaving it for dead in a heap. To that I say OLE!!!
Kid Is Qual is an electronic spectacle of sound that needs to be danced to by you. Check out the band’s Myspace page for more information and tour dates here. And stay tuned for the release of the first of three Kid Is Qual EPs coming very soon. The band has recorded it at Sound City Studios in California where such prominent records as Nirvana’s Nevermind, Weezer’s Pinkerton, and Metallica’s Death Magnetic have been made. It should be something special, but in the meantime, enjoy this cut from Qual’s 40’+ EP.