Article By: Sean Moore/ Photos By: Kenneth Coles
Port City Music Hall felt transformed into a house-party with three local bands admired and loved by friends and fans alike, all banging their heads, dancing, and screaming along with the music for close to three hours. The first band on stage, Covered in Bees, is a self-described “death punk” band whose songs find inspiration from B-movies, politics, monsters, and everything in between. Their larger-than-life lead singer was capable of grabbing the crowd’s attention with not only his witty between-songs banter and jokes, but also from his ability to sing-scream sometimes mid-song. He had the crowd, which clearly consisted of many fans/followers, singing along for a few tunes, as well. It was hard to pin a genre down on them as their entire set consisted of an amalgam of styles. They reminded me of the band Every Time I Die in some respects and you could hear their many influences (re: Misfits, The Bronx, Iron Maiden, Dead Milkmen, etc.) sometimes within the same song. It’s clear that these four dudes have fun playing music together and were an excellent choice to open the night. They handled the task of energizing the crowd very well.
The second band of the night, Paranoid Social Club, is the brainchild of well-known and respected local music “heroes” Dave Gutter and Jon Roods (of Rustic Overtones) who’ve garnered international success and critical praise on several occasions. Dave Gutter has quite a distinct, versatile, and recognizable voice for rock music when he sings, howls, growls, and/or rapidly spits verses in an almost rap-like style. Though, I found myself drawn to his guitar-playing during their set, watching Gutter’s fingers masterfully and speedily work their way through notes and solos in several songs. Gutter is the frontman audiences worship and adore. His personality makes him born to be in front of a crowd. He always has a good time on stage. He even grabbed a beer from a trusted buddy and drank it between songs.
It amazes me when musicians like Gutter (and Roods) can be so versatile and never seem to stretch themselves thin with their musical outlets. Each of Dave Gutter’s projects are wildly different and make me wonder what convinces an artist that some songs need a new outlet. With Paranoid Social Club, the crowd was treated to another genre-bending set of music with raw power and intricate melodies that had everyone dancing the entire set. The band opened with a cover of The Clash’s “London Calling” and breezed into their “Theme Song” afterwards and never looked back. Their songs range from punk to psychedelic rock, but at the core is a catalogue of songs to get you on your feet. The song that got the biggest crowd reaction and participation was their most successful one, “Two Girls,” a party anthem in its own right, having been featured in the film “Beerfest” as well as HBO’s series “Entourage.”
The night’s headlining spot belonged to the hard rocking Murcielago and they delivered an ear-splitting, balls-to-the-wall set of all their best and heaviest tunes from their sole, self-titled album, recorded and released all the way back in 2014. The band broke up nearly five years ago just as they were hitting their stride (with a new lineup that included Ian Ross on guitar) and had collected a healthy fanbase, for what I categorize as “blue collar” hard rock. But, that’s the thing with metal/hard rock fans, they do not forget nor abandon; like a dog, they will not lessen their devotion to you. The fans were like an eager pet watching the window, waiting for their owners to return. As the owners of a classic, yet updated ‘70s bluesy, hard rock sound, Murcielago came home to the stage and delivered. They have played a handful of shows since their breakup, which has seemed to light the spark and fuel the fire for more music from them.
Their sound is rooted in blues rock, heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin, Kyuss, Black Sabbath, and even Clutch. I happened to spot one of the guitarists wearing a Clutch hat; the other guitarist was sporting a Slayer shirt, no doubt on purpose. Watching the guitarists play off each other and Neil Collins, the bassist/lead singer, interject his bass lines while the drummer kept perfect time behind them delighted the entire crowd. A small mosh pit even started in the middle of the crowd at several points during their set. There were quite a few seemingly long-time, devoted fans (including a few enthusiastic women) in the front row, singing every word, banging their heads to every drumbeat and heavy guitar riff. Songs like the blistering “Bulldozers” and well-crafted hard rocking “Don’t Do Nothin” highlighted a set that lasted just over an hour.
They came out for an encore and informed the crowd that they would be recording a new album in about two weeks, which was met with enthusiasm. They closed the night with a new tune that was a psychedelic rock journey that stretched over 7 minutes. It was moments like that, where the band expanded their songs for several minutes that pleased the crowd the most. That is one of the best aspects of blues rock, the openness and expansion of an easy, basic song concept. This is what makes Murcielago one of the most entertaining local bands to see live. This show was enough to whet the appetite for more from them in the coming months, especially with the anticipation of a new album.