DIRTY PENNY AND VAINS OF JENNA SHOW ENORMOUS POTENTIAL
Show Date: October 22, 2009
Location: Cambridge, Ohio, U.S.A.
Venue: Shaker’s Nite Club
Reviewer: Greg Troyan
Band Websites: www.dirtypennysucks.com – www.vainsofjenna.com
I often get asked the question, “How on earth did you hear of [insert band name here]?” Truth be told, I often don’t know the answer. I don’t know how I heard of Dirty Penny and Vains Of Jenna, or how I heard of bands like Crashdiet and Hardcore Superstar, but somehow I discover these bands and their music.
Now, when I discovered Vains Of Jenna a few years back I didn’t care for them at all. I didn’t care for the vocals, didn’t think the songwriting was that great, but I did give them points for looking cool. I discovered Dirty Penny a few years back as well, but didn’t really get into them until I saw the video for Midnight Ride and then quickly (illegally) downloaded their debut album because I didn’t have a credit card to make an online order.
When I found out they were playing the Hi-Fi Concert Club in Cleveland (of which I am a semi-regular), I figured I’d try and catch their show because of the rarity of seeing a modern American hair metal band live, and so I could purchase a CD to support the band. Unfortunately, I was working a late shift and couldn’t go, so I ended up driving 2 hours to Cambridge, Ohio to go and see them. I brought along a couple friends of mine, who definitely don’t share similar music tastes (one is into 90s music and one is into the blues and Jack Johnson acoustic-type stuff), but were bored, and in search of an adventure, so we drove out to Shaker’s Nite Club to go see them.
Vains Of Jenna played first. Stage-presence wise, they had the energy of a young and hungry Kiss or perhaps Guns N’ Roses. You could tell they were having fun onstage and put a lot of effort into putting on a rocking show. The songs still didn’t do too much for me and felt overly busy, but I definitely developed a greater appreciation for their music after the show.
Dirty Penny came on next, and while a few of the numbers kicked total ass, they were disappointing live. The mix wasn’t very good (you could barely hear the lead vocals and guitar during the solos) and the lead singer didn’t have a lot of stage presence. I think we ended up catching the band on an off-night, as I don’t believe that the band is merely a Johnny Lima studio creation.
Still, an off-night can turn off the casual and uninitiated listener. My friends enjoyed Vains Of Jenna more – by leaps and bounds – and one friend said that they, “Played like they were playing to a bigger crowd where the other band played like they were playing an empty club.”
I now (legally) own both Dirty Penny albums and must say that both records are great, but a bad mix can kill a live performance. If there was a better mix I truly feel that the songwriting would’ve come across a lot better, and perhaps vocalist Binge Daniels might have had more enthusiasm if he could hear himself. However, credit must be given to guitarist Johnny Prynce, who gave a great performance with a lot of enthusiasm and was extremely fun to watch onstage.
Some bands are better live than in the studio, while some bands are better in the studio than live. To be a truly great band, though, one must achieve both. The songs must be great, the production needs to be great, and you need to be great live. Both of these bands have a lot of good qualities and both have shown steady improvement over time. We have to remember that these are young bands finding their place in the music world, figuring out themselves with the whole world watching. It took Thin Lizzy a few albums to find that signature Lizzy sound, so we have to accept that these young bands are still growing and learning. Still, there’s enormous potential in both groups and I’m looking forward to following these bands and their future successes.