(8 Nov 2012: Bowery Ballroom New York)
RNDM, a rock band whose acronym should not to be confused with MNDR or MDNA, is a group made up of bassist Jeff Ament (from Pearl Jam), drummer Richard Stuverud (who is one part of Tres Mts with Ament) and New York based singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur (who may have met Ament at last year’s Pearl Jam 20 Festival). Their bold stage persona, drawing on super hero/comic book themes, incorporates a lot of bright florescent colors and a big expressive ‘RNDM!!’ banner, and conveys some brashness as the bandmates begin the set in custom ski masks (a clever merchandising gimmick to boot). As Cole Waterman put it in his review of their album Acts here, “the band comes across as buddies making music for the hell (or joy) of it”. These music veterans have created pretty good songs for their side project but you need not have heard the main acts to enjoy RNDM.
Just a couple of day’s after Election Day, this downtown New York show was also post-Sandy, which may have resulted in a sparser crowd than normal. At least there was one positive in regards to Election Day. Ament, a Montanan, must have been happy that his pal, the Senator Jon Tester, was on his way to victory in his race. As a band, the buddies’ shared smiles proved they were only out to have a good time no matter what. Arthur, served as the frontman and interacted with the audience the most. As a New Yorker, he introduced the NY songs, “Williamsburg” and “Walking Through New York” for the audience. The latter song was an excellent cut, as it sounded like the perfect accompaniment for a meandering stroll through New York. Later, Arthur saw a fan holding up an “A-Ment” t-shirt (think “X-Men” style) and asked if he could have the shirt, swapping some sweatbands for it, which was pretty cool deal but it also meant the fan had to compose a message on his phone to someone or some forum and let the world know what happened right during the middle of the show.
After a short break, Arthur came out alone, harmonica wrapped around his neck, to start the lovely “Cherries in the Snow” before the rest of the band joined in. Without having listened to the album all the way through, I was surprised and pleased to hear this quieter gem. Then they transitioned into the Psychedelic Furs’ “Into You Like a Train” and then their combination of “Aint Go No / Magnificent Seven” as the finale, excellent cover songs all around. RNDM are a successful and enjoyable band in their own right. It may be hard for them to come together on a tour again but I’m sure they will make the time. And when they do, put on some bright orange jumpsuits and go check them out.
What You Can’t Control
The Disappearing Ones
The King of Cleveland (Joseph Arthur)
Throw You to the Pack
Walking Through New York
When The Fire Comes (Jeff Ament)
Can’t Exist (Joseph Arthur)
Cherries In the Snow
Into You Like a Train (The Psychedelic Furs)
Ain’t Got No, I Got Life (Nina Simone) / The Magnificent Seven (The Clash)