Last Thursday night, I was in the mood for some funky soul, in the refined atmosphere of the Scat Jazz Lounge. Dazey Chain was playing, and the place was jammed -- one-out, one-in, a full 30 minutes before the band even started playing. I'm a little too claustrophobic to be locked underground with that many fans and that many musicians -- especially the musicians.
So I drove across town to Lola's. It wasn't particularly refined -- indeed, it wasn't even soul -- but it turned out to be where I needed to be. Walking in, I felt like I was taking a trip back to the 1980s punk-rock scene. I even ran into Moonroach, back near the sound booth. For you kids out there, Moonroach was sort of a larger-than-life character in the punk world back then (although he denies it), and he summed up the opening act, Fat by the Gallon, thusly: "Generic Punk."
Not that there is anything wrong with that, because there isn't. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and the band did some originals and a decent cover of Bro Hymn by Pennywise. If you like straight-up, four-on-the-floor punk, then these guys deliver; there just isn't anything that really makes them stand out. The band has Chris Cutler (bass, vocals), Travis Rolbiecki (guitar, vocals) and Steven Ray (drums, vocals). The room was fairly packed, and the audience reacted well to Fat by the Gallon, so the band definitely knew how to keep a crowd's attention.
The headliner for the evening was Sally Majestic, and we've talked about them so much there isn't much more left to say. You will not get a bad show out of Sally Majestic.
But the dark horse of the night turned out to be How's My Driving, stuck square in the middle of the bill. I hadn't heard of these guys before, and the buzz in the room suggested they weren't all that much to write home about. But they quickly tore up the stage. They had a punk edge to them, but there was some ska in there, too. They did an excellent cover of The KKK Took My Baby Away by the Ramones, and what to my ear sounded like mostly originals. The band is DJ Isik (guitar, vocals), Eric Gumm (drums, vocals) and Tony Newman (bass).
Though the crowd inexplicably thinned before they took the stage, the people who were there were enthusiastic -- as much as they could be. Indeed, my biggest gripe of the night was that there was no pit, something punk throwback bands like Fat by the Gallon and How's My Driving absolutely require. What gives?