CULTURE

The swinging moods of rock music captured across the city in one night

The upside and downside of rock’n’roll’s emotional intent can be expected to reveal itself on two separate stages in the capital next Friday night (April 2). If there were chandeliers, they’d probably swing at the Gagarin 205 club (205 Liosion, tel 210.854.7600-2), when two party-machine acts, garage revivalists the Fleshtones, and the Seeds, who emerged from the real scene of the 1960s, play a double-header. At the other end, it should be a far more pensive evening’s worth of music at the Small Music Theater (33 Veikou, Koukaki, tel 210.924.5644) when Chris Eckman, frontman of Seattle band the Walkabouts and its splendid offshoot project Chris & Carla, returns for his first solo show in Greece, a guitar-and-voice performance to be largely based on a new album written during a recent sullen period in the songwriter’s life. Eckman has performed here on numerous joyful occasions over the past decade, both with the Walkabouts and as one half of the Chris & Carla duo, a collaboration with Carla Torgerson, also of the Walkabouts, that, apparently, is no longer. Over the years, the crowds have proven enthusiastic and consistently sizable, and there were bandmates to share the joy with. For the time being, though, Eckman is touring alone, performing soul-baring material from a somber new solo release, «The Black Field.» It should reverberate appropriately amid the intimate surroundings of the 100-or-so-capacity Small Music Theater. The limited number of fans needed to pack the venue can be expected to turn up, meaning that advance bookings should prove wise. Eckman feels a close bond with this country and his fan base here. The American songwriter’s work with the Walkabouts has proven far more popular around Europe – Greece has been particularly solid – than at home. Back in the mid-1990s, for instance, when they had established a considerable following in various parts of Europe, the Walkabouts were widely neglected at home. Some of the act’s early albums remained unreleased in the US, and were available only as imports, in limited numbers. The Walkabouts, on the domestic front, may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Eckman’s gentle-playing band of balladeers from Seattle emerged amid the thick of the city’s «grunge» explosion in the early 1990s. Several of the band’s early albums were released on the independent Sub Pop label, also home to Nirvana’s debut album, «Bleach,» released shortly before the icon-dimensioned act signed with a major label for the release of 1991’s commercial scorcher «Nevermind.» By then, Nirvana were no longer at Sub Pop, but the indie label’s subsequent focus on the phenomenally immense «grunge» scene probably did little to help generate any American interest in the dark, country-tinged musings of the Walkabouts. These days, Eckman is based in Slovenia, and prior to that, spent several years based in Portugal. Next Friday night, Eckman will reunite with local friends and fans, both as a captivating and honest stage performer, and, off-stage, as the gentle-souled individual that he is. On that night, around the same time, there will be no place for melancholy moods across town at the Gagarin’s garage-rock double-header. The Fleshtones, who performed their first Greek show at a Piraeus venue back in 1987 – as part of a frenzied indie rock festival that also featured two other «alternative-rock» forerunners, the LA post-punk band Dream Syndicate and Australian garage-pop act Hoodoo Gurus – are still doing it. On this latest visit, at a time when 1960s-rooted garage rock is enjoying heightened popularity with various young contemporary acts, such as the Strokes, the White Stripes, and the Hives under the scene’s spotlight, the Fleshtones will share the stage with a true original, the Seeds, from the late 1960s, as a recently reformed act comprising two original core members, as well as younger peripheral additions for energy reserve.