San Francisco Bay Guardian
August 20, 1997
Two Live
Sound Buffet
by Cristina Velez

It's pronounced "strootural" according to guitarist Pat Kennedy, and the dilapidated sign in front of their rehearsal space is to blame for the name. This band's sound is composed of jangly chords, a punky rhythm section, and somewhat lazily phrased sardonic lyrics, all undercut by foot-tapping, catchy hooks. Even with virtually no audience save a few persistent friends, these guys rocked the Hotel Utah on a recent Thursday as if the place were crammed full of adoring, screaming fans. Stru Tural fed off their own energy as a band. Their cohesive playing lifted songs such as Shangrila and Depart Delot to pithy heights and left permanent hieroglyphics on my eardrums.

The band - robust, healthy-looking young men in baggy pants - looked like they'd skated right down Fourth Street and into the bar. The Kennedy brothers share the vocals and crank up their guitars together, with a disarming lack of sibling rivalry. Filtered through fuzzy guitars, Dan Kennedy's vocals sneak up on you. His restrained hollering and articulate lyrics played counterpoint to the sometimes frenetic pace of the band. Pat Kennedy performed a nice little breakdown on a few numbers, his meandering guitar licks cementing a Pavement likeness. Drummer Jamie McGoldrick could go deaf one day: his loud, loud playing gave the band the edge it needed to veer from groovy to punk and back again. It does this well on songs like Sells Last Stance, which started out as a groovy little pop number and then ended as a full-throttle rhyme fest - You crash, we burn, you waste, we learn - with Dan Kennedy weightlessly pogoing on the Utah's too-small stage.

Stolen funk riffs gave some songs a Beck-like (Hanson, not Jeff) nature. Somewhere toward the end of the set, McGoldrick added to the obliqueness of the music with squeaky sounds achieved by rubbing his sticks a particular way against the cymbals. In addition to an obvious indie-rock influence, there were bluesy moments and punk-metal moments, displaying the diversity of the band's skills. Stru Tural's onstage banter exhibited a jocular appreciation of alt-rock terminology and offbeat humor. At one point, Pat Kennedy felt inspired to say, "We're pop...also grunge. We're trip hop...", and so forth, eliciting knowing hoots from the sparse crowd.

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