Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gig: The Davey Parker Radio Sound

The Davey Parker Radio Sound (Revolvers / Broken Bricks)

The Garrison. Friday, May 27, 2011.

Classic rock skirts in and out of style to some degree. As the 60's and 70's recede further into the past, I think that younger bands can appropriate this stuff with a lot less baggage than there would have been fifteen or twenty years ago. So what's the difference he he classic rock-referencing bands playing, say, The Garrison and the ones playing at the Hard Rock Café? Well, it's unjust, but who your friends are and where you play are themselves have a lot to do with how bands are perceived. Plus, I think bands like the ones at this show are going a little deeper than just the most obvious rehashing — the night's headliners, for one, are indebted to the psych and blues traditions, but also exist in a universe where Nuggets is equally influential.

And while Broken Bricks wear their influences on the sleeves of their Mod jackets, the youthful energy they infuse in their music lets you know that they know that punk has happened. It was that energy that marked them as a band I'd been meaning to check up on again for awhile. And I was glad to see it was still in place, co-existing nicely with a rehearsed professionalism.

On the stage, an elaborately striped stand for Luke Kuplowsky's keyboard drew the eye. He fronts the band with guitarist Marlon Chaplin, and the pair switch pretty freely back and forth on vocals. They've had a rotating rhythm section behind them, though right now drummer Matt Duncan is listed as the third permanent member.

The started out bang-bang-bang with three quick songs, leading with statement-of-purpose "Pop Song" before letting things stretch out a little with a little bit of excitability and wheeling around that ended with a mic stand getting knocked down. (In my notepad: "good finish!") From there, focusing on songs from their Little Fugitives EP1, they mixed spiky rockers with more laidback balladry on tunes like "Jigsaw". They also threw in a couple from their previous Pasquale and even a couple new ones.

Everything was delivered with that energetic kick, and there's quite a lot here to like. Not every song of theirs nails it for me, but they come off as such an accomplished young band it's hard not to want to project where they'll be if they can maintain their development. The set finished with a rollicking combo run through "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Within You Without You", which they tore into with even more gusto then they showed for their own stuff. They also showed a bit more of a penchant for psychedelic skew in these that hopefully will rub off on their songs.

Listen to a couple tracks from this set here.

I suppose it's continuing a trajectory that I've noted before (and maybe the sheer volume of The Garrison's sound system helped), but Revolvers hit with the most muscular wallop I'd ever heard from the band. The fact that the music's increased crunch is being carefully integrated so as to not flatten out the band's attention to sonic detail is a testament to drummer Lavien Lee, who alongside bassist Gabi Mezzetti keep a litheness underneath the guitars up front.

Revolvers' second full-length is getting closer — a recent dispatch indicates it's been sent off for mastering — and there was a lot of that newer material being played here. Of eight songs, there were only a couple from Apocalypse Surfin', including a nice take of the title track that nicely illustrated how they've toughened up their sound without undercutting what is, at its heart, an earnest little ballad. There were a couple songs that were brand new to me, but some of this second-album material has been kicking around their setlists for awhile.

Another sign of a a band that'd clearly stepped it up: some of the songs that I'd thought were a little trite and undercooked before — like closer "I Love You" — now got over on virtue of a slide and a swagger. That's a useful tool for a rock'n'roll band to have at hand, and I'm looking forward to see how things are sounding when that new album comes out.2

Listen to a track from this set here.

I have a pet theory that states that album release shows are often not the bands' best gigs. Celebrating the culmination of a lot of hard work, they're an "event" and often saddle the band with having to deal with a lot of tangential issues, from (hopefully) dealing with a little more press than usual to making sure parents are on the guest list. And while this was a noteworthy occasion for The Davey Parker Radio Sound, celebrating the release of their first full-length In A Land Of Wolves And Thieves3, it was an un-glam sort of night — well-befitting a band with a blue-collar, no-frills approach.

At first, it looked like some of those tangential complications might undermine their release show, with Ben Quinn fighting a balky bass amp for the first couple songs. But once that was sorted out, the band was in a good groove, pumping out a series quick songs — and in fine album-celebratin' fashion, they started off by reeling off Wolves' first half-dozen songs in order.

That gave a chance for the quartet to show off their main elements: the sound features guitar lines and vocals bouncing back and forth between Jason Fitzpatrick and Graeme Jonez, powering their old-school garage rock with a hint of nugget-y psychedelia and a taste of the blues. Separating them from a lot of similar bands, they also have a hard rockin' undertone that suggests they come from a lineage that includes, say, Steppenwolf and Deep Purple more than some more fashionable antecedents. Those classic rock tropes are especially up front when they stretch out a bit on the likes of "Downtown Night Owl", but there's still a fuzzy stomp that drives the songs forward.

The band broke from the track-by-track presentation of album to introduce the brand-new "Gypsy Ring", which was one of the best of the set — a good sign they've got songs aplenty in 'em yet. The endgame was a little muddled, and for a moment it looked like the set was sort of just going to stumble to a halt with the band suddenly declaring they were done — mostly out a egalitarian desire to get final band Speaking Tongues up on the stage. But the crowd made sure they stayed up for a couple more and that allowed them the shot at the Big Rock Finish, concluding with a triumphant take of "The Living City".4

I had previously posted a track from this set here, but you can also check out another one here.

1 It was recorded with John Critchley — and it makes me feel particularly superannuated these days when I see him identified with reference to a bunch of production credits instead of merely saying "... of 13 Engines".

2 Revolvers will be playing with Two Green Cats at The Piston on Thursday May 24th. No word yet on when that album will be coming out.

3 "We released an album," the band announced from the stage. "It's for sale and it's for free." And, indeed, it's still available as a free download on their bandcamp — but I'm sure it'd be appreciated if you could kick something in to support the band's DIY efforts.

4 The DPRS will be playing a Pop with Brains showcase on July 20 at The Rivoli.

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