Back in 2006, Chicago act Bang! Bang! released Decked Out, a rollicking, electro-clash record that proved a more than adequate follow up to the 2005 EP Electric Sex. Around that same time, local retro garage punk band Thee Crucials first came to my notice by way of a couple of pumped
up, super-energetic and fun shows. So when it I found out that these two acts were sharing a bill, I just knew I had to be there.
The biggest question mark of the evening was the first opener, Atlanta band Attractive Eighties Women. When this five piece came on the stage, I could pretty much tell they were neither attractive nor women (I will state that it appears all members lived through the Eighties, though). Still, they broke into a hard, albeit catchy, rock sound. While in and of itself, there is nothing particularly exciting or new about the music, it was the sly sense of humor that pervaded the band's lyrics that won me over. They had a song about large cans of PBR (fittingly called Master Cylinder) and sing-along number apparently about pirates and heart break (Walk the Plank). But the silliest song was Lightening Bolt, a Dungeons and Dragons tune that invoked several old-school gamer references that only a reformed dork could appreciate Good stuff, and well worth seeing again, in my book.
That's an Attractive Eighties Woman?
After Attractive Eighties Women's remarkably entertaining set, the three piece Bang! Bang! took the stage. Looking much the same as the last time I saw them in concert, the band immediately launched into a rambunctious set.
Gretta Fine in action.
In particular, on this evening, the vocal call and response between guitarist
Jack Flash and bassist Gretta Fine was well rehearsed and well mixed.
Bang! Bang! throw it down at The EARL.
Likewise, the dueling riffs between the two string instruments bounced back
and forth, almost as if they were trying to mimic the give and take of vocal
interplay. Combining this with the thuddingly fast drums of Mike Wednesday,
and you had a mix of ramped up music that induces the crowd the bounce and
dance. In fact, as I looked around The EARL, it seemed that the more the crowd
got into the music, the more the band fed off the energy and consequently amped
up their own performance. By the end of what seemed like a shortish set, I
had to think that Bang! Bang! are one of those bands who are best experienced
live, as the recorded medium can't really contain their exuberance.
Jack Flash. Notice his really cool tie.
A closeup of the tie.
With two really good acts already done, I was a bit worried when the five piece Thee Crucials came on. Despite my knowledge of their usually intense live sets, I wasn't sure that they could live up to the pace shown by the previously acts. However, I shouldn't have worried that much. From the moment they took the stage, Thee Crucials owned it, as members bounced around, playing off the energy already existing within the room.
Thee Crucials in mid jump.
Of course, it helps that their music is infectiously good, with songs like Gorgon Go Home standing out in particular, With a combination of anthemic melodies, sing along choruses, and a particularly insistent organ, Thee Crucials move beyond a standard issue retro 60s sound and into something much looser and compelling. As if to underscore this looseness, the best parts of their live set were the moments when various band members (but most usually the lead singer and guitarist) jumped off the stage and played their way through the crowd, interacting with audience members. And when they finished, I was surprised because it seemed like their set had passed in a flash.
Thee Crucials keyboardist playing at an angle.
As I expected at the onset, this was an excellent evening music. Not surprisingly, Bang! Bang! put on a great set to an appreciative audience. And Attractive Eighties Women were both entertaining and humorous, which isn't always the easiest combination to pull off. But, in the end, it was Thee Crucials who made the evening by being musically tight and super energetic at the same time.
Thee singer of Thee Crucials.