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flag US - New York - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 22 - 08/08/98

Bowery Ballroom, New York, July 10th 1998

Versus had been on a U.S. tour supporting their third album, Two Cents Plus Tax (Caroline/TeenBeat), which was released a couple of months ago, and this show was the 3rd last on the tour. Which could mean: we'll get to see a band tired of touring, or a tight and perfect-sounding band, after performing many nights in a row. Or both? The fact is: Versus returned home to NYC and played an excellent concert!

I'm sorry Pacific Ocean (the opening band, starring ex-Versus drummer, now guitarist, Ed Baluyut, plus Connie Lovatt on bass, who also is in Containe with Fontaine of Versus), but I came to see Versus, and so did everyone of the +/- 300 crowd I think. "Lose That Dress", off the 1996 album, Secret Swingers opened the show, and the band was right on target from chord one. With "Mouth of Heaven", the best song from Two Cents..., they really tightened the grip on the audience. Goosebumps, anyone? The master mind of Versus seems to be singer, guitarist Richard Baluyut. But on his right side there's always Fontaine Toups, basslady and vocalist. Together they're sort of the Bonnie & Clyde of New York indie-pop-rock. The two of them take turns singing, and together with the switching dynamics (smooth melodies blended with noisy guitars) of the music this makes the big force of Versus. Who's become a really tight unit, with hard-working guitarist James Baluyut (yes, they're all brothers), and new drummer Patrick Ramos in the back.

They played most of the songs, f.i., "Dumb Fun", and the maraccas-driven "Jack and Jill" to name but a few, from the new album, which seems to be their most immediate and catchy to date. Only one song (I was really hoping to hear a few more!), "Circle", was taken from their stunning debut album, The Stars Are Insane (TeenBeat, 1994). "Yeah You", another one from Secret Swingers, was great, before "Morning Glory" ended the set, and the band went backstage. Then, massive applause, and Versus came on again for a couple of encores, ending with an explosive version of "Be-9". The stars are insane. Yeah, great show! Leaving everyone happy-faced, with sweet feedback ringing in their ears.

Copyright © 1998 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Versus articles/reviews: Afterglow EP, On the Ones and Threes.

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