Black On Black / Greys / Westerners at the Replay Lounge
More shows need to be like this: all ages, over by 9:00pm, and cheap. I would go to each and every matinee rock show, schedule allowing. There’s something wonderful about getting off work, eating dinner, and then seeing a couple of bands, and getting home in time to knock out a couple chapters in that book you’re reading.
Yes, I know this makes me old and lame, but yesterday evening’s show at the Replay Lounge was fricking great. In addition to the situational things, it had that rarest of elements these days, wherein the bands didn’t all sound alike. Don’t get me wrong: I love a standard punk bill. However, opening the show was Lawrence’s Westerners, who start out their sets sounding kind of funky, kind of jammy. It gets a few raised eyebrows on an “all-ages punk show” kind of bill, obviously, but the way this band gets progressively weirder as their set progresses never ceases to amaze.
The couple of times I’ve seen them, Westerners kind of turn me off with the first few songs, but as they add in dischordant elements in the instrumentation, jamming out with distortion and so on, while rocking dual harmonies, I tend to watch in absolute fascination. They’re exactly the sort of band that is essentially a totally different act at the end of their set, with me sitting there going, “Why can’t they be like that with every song?”
Greys are from Canada, and all I knew about them was that Black On Black had hooked them up with a couple area shows while they’re on tour supporting their new album, If Anything. They played 25 minutes, and at the end, I bought their album. They’re tightly-wound rock ‘n’ roll that walks a line with Hot Snakes on one side, and Nirvana on the other. The Nirvana comparison is due mainly to their bass player, who rocks Krist Novaselic lines left and right. He’s also really fucking tall.
It was at the end of their first song that I first thought, “Maybe I should buy their album.” At the end of their second cut, it was “I’m buying their album.” The trio is just faster than hell, and they didn’t stop at all between song. There was no time to clap, because as one song ended, the next one started almost immediately. The punky garage rock ‘n’ roll is loud and heavy, rather than the usual tinniness most garage acts deal in. My face was flat-out melted, is what I’m trying to say here.
Lawrence’s Black On Black is the punkest band currently working. All-ages matinee show? Check. Posting all of their music for free download? Check. Refusing to follow sonic conventions? Check.
No, seriously, they’re a punk band in terms of ethos and practices, but don’t hew to the standard “this is what a punk band sounds like” bullshit that so many other bands feel the need to do. They’re heavy, they fucking rocking, and you can — if so inclined — pogo or mosh yourself stupid to their songs, but there’s more to them than three chords and a snpotty attitude.
Wade Kelly’s voice can be melodic or barking, and the way he presents himself onstage reminds of no-one so much as Danko Jones: just pure self-assuredness, up there knowing that this band is fully-qualified to rock asses. Everyone on stage has that bearing, really. It’s great to see a band that — even playing to a couple dozen people at 8:30 on a Monday — acted like the places was packed to the gills on a Saturday.