It’s been said for years that rock n’ roll is dead. It seems that the bands today that get called rock n’ roll couldn’t be any further away from what rock n’ roll is all about. The rock n’ roll I know and love isn’t played by people who bitch about being famous and play huge shows just staring at their shoes and watching the ground shift. Well, I’m here to tell you that rock n’ roll is not dead and on a Wednesday night in Atlanta, I found rock n’ roll and it’s doing just fine. The Drunken Unicorn is a little seedy, smokey dive that is literally underground just below a parking lot. There are no signs, no big marquee. It’s almost as if it’s a secret to get there. Think of the Drunken Unicorn as the place where that deep rooted seed of rock n’ roll now resides and flourishes with life. Inside, Atlanta’s own Six Shot Revival is set up and ready to deliver the very brand of rock n’ roll that I fell in love with as a youth and still love to this day. Taking the stage to a sparse audience didn’t seem to phase them one bit as they launched into “It Never Ends.” The electricity and chemistry of the band on stage was totally picked up by everyone in attendance as everyone moved forward to take in the rock n’ roll show. The sparse but extremely appreciative and vocal audience was treated to some of the finest rock songs I’ve heard in quite a long time. Playing songs mostly from their debut album “Greatest Hits Vol. 1,” Six Shot Revival melted faces with songs like “DeVille”, “Snake Eyes” and an awesome cover of the obscure Lynyrd Skynyrd track “Mississippi Kid” which was dedicated to bassist Steve Morrison who was said to be a Mississippi kid himself. The highlight of the set to me was a brand new track called “The Blues Aint The Blues No More” that had vocalist Marc Manley Phillips singing, “The blues ain’t the blues no more. There ain’t no more good records at the record store.” Pretty prophetic for a bunch of youngins don’t ya think?
It’s refreshing to see a band leave it all on the stage and perform with not a care in the world. They do everything they can do make sure that everyone in attendance is having a good time. It is nearly impossible to ignore the fact that these guys have taken a stage. It’s a performance of arena rock proportions squeezed into the back of a small danky club. Marc Manley Phillips is a guy that graduated the rock n’ roll front man 101 class with flying colors. He totally gets it that it’s his job to energize, engage and entertain the crowd. He does just this with confidence but not arrogance. When it’s time for guitarist Jon Brown to take a solo, Phillips steps back allowing Jon to move to stage front and just rip everyone’s heads off. This guy has to be my new favorite guitarist. You can just see everyone gravitate to him when he’s ripping a lead solo. The rhythm section of Steve Morrison (bass) and drummer Brandon Purinton are so tight yet they possess energy and charisma that makes them shine through as more than just the ‘backbone” of the band. The band brought their rousing set to a close with “Whiskey Bent” which Phillips had the crowd eating out of his hand as he got everyone to sing the chorus along with him. Drenched in sweat and looking physically exhausted, the band slammed the last chord of the song to a roar that was 3 times bigger than the audience themselves. I literally felt myself get lost in their performance and didn’t think of a single thing the entire time they were on stage. I was grooving out, nodding my head and singing back the songs along with everyone else. After their nearly hour long set I found myself wanting more. I wanted them to keep playing and playing. Six Shot Revival is a band that gets it. Without bands like these guys, rock n’ roll possibly could fade away but by preserving the sound and playing it for anyone who will listen, it lives just that much longer and stronger. Rock N’ Roll isn’t dead folks. It’s in the basement bars, the swill dives and back rooms of bars. You just have to look a little harder for it but once you find it, you’ll find that it was worth the effort. As Six Shot Revival sings in their song “Whiskey Bent,” “Here’s to the good times and trouble that’s comin’.” Bring it on fellas! Bring it on!
Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad
Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.
Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”
Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.
The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.
Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair
The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.
What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.
Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.
Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.” The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.
Years & Years at Royale Boston
During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.
Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.
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