The Dead Girls at the Jackpot
Saturday night was the fourth time I’ve been at the Jackpot in about two weeks. It’s been a non-stop parade of rock ‘n’ roll bands taking their stage, and this weekend’s show was no exception. Rather than garage or punk, though, this was a trio of powerfully poppy rock bands, bringing power chords and hooky riffs to the folks who crowded near the stage.
The Dead Girls headlined, playing a set of material that drew mainly from their first album, back when they were known as Dead Girls Ruin Everything. Every time I see this quartet, I get surprised. I’ve seen these four men play in a good half-dozen bands over the past decade and a half — members have been in bands like Ultimate Fakebook, Podstar, the Touchdowns, Guns ‘n’ Roses’ tribute Sweet Band O’ Mine, Truck Stop Love, Stiff Middle Fingers, et al — yet, somehow, I’m consistently astounded by the talent of these guys.
JoJo Longbottom deserves far more praise than he’s received for his guitar-playing skills, as does Nick Colby on bass. These guys are somewhat opposites in terms of how they present themselves. Just look at that picture below of Longbottom ripping on his guitar at the edge of the stage. The guy’s a showman, but justifiably so — he’s got the chops to pull off Tin Lizzy guitar work pretty much perfectly, to say nothing of soloing with the Dead Girls. Colby’s the opposite: he hangs back, doesn’t have a microphone, and is nigh-impossible to get photos of, because he’s standing behind the rest of the band. Yet, his bass playing is rock-fucking-solid, and a serious thudding groove.
The Dead Girls’ most recent release is the “She Laughed A Little” single on Rocket Heart Records. The b-side features a cut entitled “It’s All happening,” and has Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack. Snag it in the Rocket Heart store.
See North of Grand, should the opportunity arise. The Iowa group doesn’t tour all that often, being as how three of the members are married with kids, and when they do, it’s weekend warrior trips. However, when they make it out to Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis, Lawrence, or one of the usual Midwestern regional spots, they’re an act worth catching.
North of Grand has occasionally covered the Groovie Ghoulies. That should clue you in to what you’re missing when you don’t see them. It’s slightly punky, a little snotty, and uses riffs like they have a storeroom full of them somewhere. What kept popping into mind Saturday night was that first Cheap Trick record: guitars playing off one another, catchy lyrics, and a whole lot of attitude.
They’ve got a new album out, called A Farewell To Rockets, out now of Brolester Records, and with about half their set consisted of tracks from it. Opener “Hey Man” and cuts like “VHS” are absolutely great, and I’d highly suggest clicking over to the Brolester store and grabbing a copy right now.
Openers Shy Boys from Kansas City were an astoundingly chill kick-off to the festivities. While the other two acts dealt in riffs and chords, Collin Rausch would pulls out these wonderfully surfy runs on his hollowbody Fender. Harmonies — which were liberally utilized throughout the evening — got pulled out right at the start. Rausch and bassist Konnor Ervin (of the ACBs, along with drummer Kyle Rausch) crooned together marvelously.
Shy Boys play quietly lovely, slightly surf-laced shoegaze pop. It’s almost akin to a male Dum Dum Girls, rocking a serious chill drone vibe. While low-key, it certainly got the evening off to a great start, and as the only band of the three whom I’d not seen, they certainly made a great first impression. I’ll be seeing them again.