Rainer Maria is one of those bands who are much better live than recorded. Bassist Caithlin de Marrais flexes her well-defined biceps as she cavorts and belts out lyrics; drummer William Kuehn sweats and smacks; and guitarist Kyle Fisher jumps up and down all over the stage, so much so that you're always concerned that perhaps Fisher will crash into de Marrais, and the whole euphoric thing will end in a shower of electric sparks and feedback.
Rainer Maria's songs are powered by de Marrais' bass lines and the combined live energy and good looks of all three members, which is why it's a smart move on the band's part to release a DVD of a show at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, N.C. (which I cannot watch since--gasp!--I do not own a DVD player), along with a disc of live recordings from several places around the map. One of those places includes Brownies in New York City, from a June 30, 2002, show which I happened to be at and which happened to be one of the last shows at that bar before it closed down.
The recordings are just as live recordings should be--tinny, grainy, the levels a little off, the crowd loud. There are songs from all four Rainer Maria records, executed with a fierce exaltation; turn it up loud, and Brownies is nearly re-created in your living room in Tucson, Arizona, without the overpriced beer.