Sunday night Cambridge-based Banditas played an opening set at the Great Scott. Banditas is stripped down, I mean minimalist. They have two instruments, and two singers, that’s all they need really.
Drummer Dave Cave (cool name that rhymes, I’m already sold) doesn’t even have tom-toms. His drum set, and beats are the just the essentials, mostly revolving around punchy bass and snare and sometimes tambourine for good measure. Singer/guitarist Hayley Thompson-King (who, fun-fact is dating a member of Bodega Girls) also very modestly uses her guitar- covering mostly power chords, and some open chords. The undecorated guitar buzzes warmly through an old tube amp.
The music of Banditas is twangy simplicity. It’s this hazy garage rock thing, hidden behind cigarette smoke in the back of an Atlanta bar. The real magic to the band is the harmonies of Haley and other singer Molly Maltezos (sorry no fun aside for her). They combine to create the forceful haunting of a woman scorned. The scorn isn’t just for effect either, the girls sing of bastard men and deep personal depression. The line “I’ll carry this weight like a drug mule, boy I’ll take what you got, nothing from nothing,” from their song “Cat In Your Tree” really got me. They are reminiscent of Nancy Sinatra in “I shot my baby down.” Just shoot Nancy forward a number of years and drag her through some bayous, sorry Nancy. The girls are local, so I’m not sure where the Southern vibe is coming from, but it works just fine. It helps the delivery of their sad songs in a ‘hey it’s sorta of ok’ country radio way. The Killers sounded British when they first came out, and they’re from Las Vegas, they did ok.
The only qualm I have with the band is their horrifically laid-out myspace. I am not sure what the deal with that is, but you can –and should- check out Banditas at the enormous room in Cambridge October 30th.