Murder the Stout - 'If you like the Pogues...' is an easy description for many bands out there and it sums up the sounds of this Houston based international band quite easily. They line up with drums, stand-up bass, a couple of guitars, banjo, whistle, and accordion/lead vocals. The singer is from Scotland, so there is plenty of authenticity in the music, but the execution is what is more important. These guys deliver the goods. The sound was a bit murky up front, but moving back a bit and allowing the soundman to tweak things quickly had all the elements coming through nicely. I enjoyed the set although it was a bit too unvaried at times (the Pogues do lots of tempo and international twists for example). But with a band under this moniker, it is no surprise to hear the closing songs of "Nancy Whiskey" and "Streams of Whiskey" carrying the night forward.
Off with their Heads - This trio simply kicks out the jams in classic bar-room punk rock fashion. Instantly, I sense that these two bands represent the two poles of tonight's headliner where the Street Dogs take these ingredients and amp it up a notch or two. The guitarist handles the lead vocals and scares me with his style in that it is similar to my old friend and cohort Ed Pittman of Toxic Reasons. Everything from vocals to axes is nice and throaty with fast drums galloping along. They keep the breaks and silence between songs minimal if employed at all which is the sign of a solid, competent band. Again, the only gripe would be the one-note tempo and song structure (aside from one song) which can be a challenge for a 40-minute set. Still, it was fun and the growing crowd was into it well enough.
Street Dogs - It's taken me to the seventh time that these guys have toured the Holiday season to realize this is a regular thing. I have seen them a couple times before and it is hard not to like their urban Irish bar-room brand of punk rock. They are lead by everyone's favorite fireman, Michael McColgan, on lead vocals (formerly with the Dropkick Murphys). He has as powerful voice as he does presence and is simply a lot of fun with plenty of heart for social causes as well. They have fast and wild material that they constantly nail as these guys can play. They do vary up their songs, add some acoustic guitars, get plenty of guest musicians from the opening band and in the area to help as well. There's a "Dirty Old Town" cover along with a Joe Strummerized version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song". They were thrilled with the turnout and energy for a Monday night and it was a good crowd about half full (back section closed but packed up front). Although I feel I have seen these guys enough, their timing always seems to work to where I can use that extra shot of energy before the holidays. So I will likely be back and if you haven't experienced them, it should be something done once at a minimum.
Quote of the Night: The bassist had to switch basses after a mostly acoustic slow number and related what his guitar tech told him... "How the fuck did you break a bass string on that song!?"