Tuesday, September 22, 2009

American Bang Brought Southern Swagger To NY

American Bang: September 19 @ The Fillmore at Irving Plaza, New York, NY

When I walked into The Fillmore this past Saturday, I went in knowing two of the three bands that were performing that night. It wasn't until I took a glance at the merchandise table on my way to the stage area that I even knew the name of the other band that would be playing that night.

As I stood there waiting for the second act of the night to take the stage, I wondered to myself, where are these guys from and what do they sound like? I also hoped like hell that they would at least be a decent band. Not long after I wondered that, Tennessee band American Bang took to the stage and proceeded to silence my questions. The first thing I noticed, the band, Jaren Johnston (vocals/guitar), Ben Brown (guitar), Kelby Ray (bass) and Neil Mason (drums) looked to be a no frills group of guys. I immediately thought, long hairs from the South who look like the sort of guys you'd hang out with, at your local bar, tossing back drinks. Nice!

I may have walked into the venue an American Bang virgin but, it was clear from the opening chords of their set that I was going to be given a night to remember. They are, all up in your face, straight up rock 'n' roll. Live, American Bang has the intensity of Cream; the fiery, whiskey drinking, kick your ass, foot stomping, Southern boogie and swagger of early Skynyrd; the bombastic bluesy arena rock attitude of AC/DC; and the loud, fast, hard rocking wallop of MC5. Yeah, that's some heavy comparison but Saturday night, bad-assery rained from the stage and this band was responsible for it. Bad-assery, is that even a word? Well, if not, they put on a show worthy of word creation.

They roared through a blistering set that left no doubt that they meant business. Frontman Johnston who in addition to having a good voice that serves him well and playing killer licks, put on a display of charm and swagger reminiscent of frontmen of yore. Guitarist Brown totally rocked out, working his side of the stage like nobody's business; he also seemed to have a cadre of woman cheering him on. The rhythm section of Mason and Ray are a tight driving force that not only demand your attention, but demand that you move. Their rhythms are heavy, particularly Mason who lays down a hard back beat but, doesn't overpower.

For those who want a taste of American Bang and don't already have it, they have an EP out, Move To The Music. If my memory is serving me correctly, Johnston mentioned from the stage that they have a record coming out in January.

American Bang are a damn good live band. They're high energy bad ass fun. While I walked in not knowing who they were, I walked away with that excited, tingly, euphoric feeling that seems to invade every fiber of your being when you witness good rock 'n' roll. I like that feeling.

On the photo side of things, the drummer photo curse continues ... forgive me Mr. Mason for I have blurred you!

Set List
  • Wildside
  • All Night Long
  • Move To The Music
  • She No Cry
  • Rock 'N' Roll Queen
  • All We Know
  • Whiskey Walk
  • Wild And Young
  • Kiss Kiss Bang