On November 22, it was rock night at The Merrow, featuring San Diego locals The Dexter Riley Xperiment, Sensory Station, and Dead Sara from Los Angeles; they’re the only band I was familiar with before entering the venue. The Merrow features a fairly large stage and dance floor, along with pool tables and a small seating area for people to enjoy the shows. The main bar area is a smaller room at the main entrance, which can be cordoned off from the stage room by large black curtains. It’s a nice venue, decorated in a nautical theme (“Merrow” is the Gaelic term for merman/mermaid according to their website), though its parking lot is absolutely tiny; patrons have more luck in the mini mall across the street.
The opening band for the evening was The Dexter Riley Xperiment, a blues rock quartet. The music was pretty laid back, sitting mostly in the lower tempo range, with riffs and hooks vaguely reminiscent of Ted Nugent or Stevie Ray Vaughn. Unfortunately, the band’s sound and tone made listening rather difficult. The bassist was incredibly loud, at times overpowering the drums, and his tone used so much of the midrange that the guitars were hard to hear. I couldn’t even hear the rhythm guitarist throughout most of the show. At the end of the set, I was left with the impression that DRX is fairly new as a band, and the musicians haven’t gotten around to setting their sound as a band, instead of individual musicians.
The second band, Sensory Situation, took a more experimental approach to their music. Another quartet, the lead singer doubled as the sole guitar player and they featured a keyboard player. This band also tended toward lower tempos, though their music was stylistically more varied than the previous band. The singer shouted or screamed some of the lyrics, and there were some parts that definitely tended toward the heavier side of rock & roll, almost sounding metal at some points. Like DRX, unfortunately, Sensory Station’s sound wasn’t very cohesive. While the bass wasn’t nearly as overpowering, there was absolutely no room in the mix for the keys, and I couldn’t hear a note he played throughout the entire set. Unlike DRX, SS is far enough along to have an album for sale, so I’m hoping the studio mix compensates and lets everyone be heard, and that the live sound will eventually follow suit.
By: Chris Hicke