The El Rays - This is the first of what turned out to be an interesting night of local and area bands doing their version of three unique sounds of the 60s garage rock scene. First up are these five players on guitar, bass, drums, saxophone and farfisa. Instrumental surf music is served up with style and skill. Things are kept simple and direct with leads from the sax and guitar. The sax is key to things sounding a little more worldly and beyond the cliche of this sound. They end up with a sound reminding me of the Monomen's instrumental album of many years back. But it is not that heavy and heads toward Dengue Fever's LA garage leanings. I am not sure what the cover to original ratio was, but "Pipeline" is easily recognized by probably about all of the 35-45 present. Three were using sheet music, so maybe things are a little new here, but the band was together and fun. It is really hard not to enjoy this style of music, especially on a Saturday night. But I would be happy to see these guys again any time.
The Dirty Names - This Annapolis band says they play rock'n'roll. They proceed to give many fine examples of this throughout their 43 minute set. I was a tad worried when the first song sounded like they could have played it opening for REO Speedwagon in 1975. But they would have blown REO off the stage with it, so that worked out ok. They then dug back into the early 60s, later 60s and pretty much took lots of inspiration from classic and garage rock from several eras and just blasted it out in their own manner. Loads of power and skill here, not a whole lot of tricks which is clearly by design. It takes guts to play things straight these days as opposed to trying to add the latest Band of Horses style or whatever else is hip. These guys have not only the skill, but the moxy needed to bring it home. They are off on a tour of the south and if they get crowds like tonight (swelling to nearly 100 by now), they should do very well.
The Blackberry Belles - Regular readers know I have reviewed this band many times and interviewed them once, so I already know I will enjoy tonight as long as something bad does not happen. Pause. No, nothing bad happened, aside from choosing that as my first sentence. For those of you that have not seen this act, it is a three-piece with guitar/vocals, drums, and keyboards that yield organ, piano, and keyboard-bass. The sound is soulful rocking garage from the late 60s and early 70s. The band has a great approach and locked into their music well tonight just as they have many times previously. The vocals were a bit subdued in the mix, but otherwise the sound was strong (as it was all night). They brought up the Dirty Names' bass player to do "Going Home" which was a lot of fun and as rocked out as expected. All in all, a fine hour long set that gave a third variation on 60s garage bands. All genres have their unique subsets and tonight was a fine example for those of us thinking of these things. For the others that wanted to rest their brain and just rock out on a Saturday night, they were happy as well.
Quote of the Night: From the crowd during the opening band... "Kevin Eubanks, eat your heart out."
And apologies for the annoying floating text that I cannot find. Debugging will happen soon.