Saturday, November 6, 2010

Roky Erickson - Benjy Ferree - The Happen-Ins -- Black Cat - Nov 5 2010

The Happen-Ins - A two-guitar four-piece with a very 60s garage name hits the stage and begins with a very garage rock song. There is some roots within and subsequent songs blend classic rock and bluesy roots rock as well. Some times it veers a bit too much toward average 70s rock music, but then a song will come along and show some good energy and have a bit more bite to it. The last song started of like a Canned Heat boogie and just as I make that note, a guitarist screams "Boogie" at the top of his lungs. So aside from the obvious and average moments, this 40 minute set was decent enough and warmed the crowd nicely.

Benjy Ferree - Ferree plays guitar for the majority of his 40 minute set and organ on the last three songs. He is accompanied by a bass and drums, although their output was pretty lackluster and sounded more like a late addition to a solo folk artist. Ferree's songs are kind of old styled rock and roll which Dave Alvin does better. I just was not feeling it tonight and the crowd was tepid all night with the most quiet applause between songs that I have heard in a while. I think he sensed this and kept mentioning Roky being in the house. And after his last note, it wasn't thank you, it was "Roky's on next, everybody. C'mon DC." This set just did not work for the filling club.

Roky Erickson - You could not get odds on this ever happening a few years ago prior to the brilliant documentary "You're Gonna Miss Me". There was some optimism at that film's end which has continued to grow into Austin shows, Austin City Limits, a new album, and now a tour. Mostly insiders read this blog, so I need not go into the amazing Roky story evident in the film and in an excellent 13th Floor Elevators biography. I highly recommend both. Roky comfortably hits the stage with an older, very excited crowd that filled just over half the club I would guess. Even with the new album, it was a heavy set of Aliens era material. Roky played guitar throughout, although got lost a few times and stopped to sing during some songs. His lead guitarist was orchestrating and making sure they started well while the rhythm section was quite accomplished and comfortable filling in quickly. They all did well as the set was pretty smoothly delivered with good sound. Roky's voice is key and it is of course a lot more ragged than the early days, but he still has some nice range and good expression. And really, the simple fact that he can stand on a stage for an hour and deliver these songs is amazing of itself. While this set did not achieve transcendental heights, it was enjoyable enough for even people that don't know the history. But everyone did know the history, so there was excitement for different reasons and I am guessing everyone left the club quite happy that this happened.

Set List: It's a Cold Night for Alligators/Two-Headed Dog/The Wind and More/Good-bye Sweet Dreams/Starry Eyes/Bloody Hammer/Night of the Vampire/Stand for the Fire Demon/The Beast/I Walked with a Zombie/John Lawman/Don't Shake Me Lucifer/Don't Slander Me... Encore: You're Gonna Miss Me

Quote of the Night: "Roky only mumbled something incomprehensible at one time, so I will go to the opening band... "We are from Austin. Rock'n'Roll is alive and well in Austin, TX..." Yes, well, we in DC get accused often of not knowing what goes on in the heartland, but we've heard that one.


K-Rad said...

The first song Roky played was "It's A Cold Night For Alligators"

David Hintz said...

You know, that was a guess, but I just wasn't picking up the chorus in my head when I replayed it the next day. Thanks!