When I originally signed on for this, I mistakenly thought that I would be covering a Black Keys tribute band or something. The night ended up being way memorable and fulfilling than it would have been if that was actually what I was reviewing. Turns out the event had been titled “Howlin’ For You” because four awesome musical artists had come together to raise money for Animatch. Considering the rise in abandoned pets since the summer, this was a much-needed fundraiser that not only brought a solid amount of people together but raised $300 for a deserving cause. Everyone who performed, despite their differences in style, brought their A game to the stage.
First up was solo artist Colin Moore, who despite having to face the crowd alone, managed to impress pretty much everyone with just an acoustic guitar and his emotionally raw voice. One guy on a stage can be hit and miss in venues like L’Hemisphere Gauche, but Moore didn’t seem flustered and certainly rose to the occasion. It also helps that the guy’s voice is a dead ringer for Dave Grohl’s. He has that same melodic scream and nice guy sensibility that makes Mr. Grohl one of the most likeable dudes in rock. Moore truly has a knack for songwriting because his original tune “Heart of the Storm” got stuck in my head until it was time for the next act.
Second on the roster was the wonderfully demented The Jesse James Medicine Show. If you thought that The White Stripes were minimalist than you need to check these two guys out! They don’t even need a freaking drummer! Bass player and vocalist James McNeil uses one foot to hit a bass drum and one foot to hit a snare drum. You might think that would get repetitive but somehow it just adds to their straightforward approach. Jesse Elliot plays gonzo 50’s style garage rock, shredding up and down the fretboard at any opportunity to do so. None of it should have worked, but the crowd was instantly charmed by them! At one point, McNeil even ran into the back section of the bar and barked like a dog during an always welcome cover of The Stooges’ “T.V. Eye.” That is what rock and roll is all about my friends!
Next in line was East of Sunday, who probably drew the biggest crowd that night, and for good reason. A tight band with obvious chemistry, their professional air was unmistakable. Their set was mostly originals with a few very well-known covers. Even though I appreciated their covers, especially “With A Little Help From My Friends” and “War Pigs,” I felt that they weren’t needed and didn’t really mesh with their own stuff. It made it hard for me to decipher what kind of band they actually were. If you took the covers out, you’d get a soulful alternative band that could be compared to 90s Alice in Chains. The band and the crowd especially came alive during the cover times in the set, especially guitarist Serge LeBlanc, who besides baring a resemblance to Bruce Willis, also clearly has a sixth sense when it comes to his instrument.
Finally, closing out the night was the one and only Summerled! I have seen these boys play many times, but they still amaze me with their energy and infectious charm. Guitarist/vocalist Pat Bernard got in some beautifully crafted mom jokes and vocalist/lead guitarist Keenan Kerr performed some of his patented rock and roll aerodynamics, but it was drummer Jon Erskine that stole the show. I think I might have taken him granted before because damn can this guy drum! He literally never misses a beat, which is impressive considering the high speed fills that he is called on to perform. At one point, he even shot a busted stick into the audience, pulled out a new one, and hit the snare without most of the crowd even noticing! This is probably why Summerled is so remarkably seamless while offering some of the most blisteringly fun pop-punk this city has to offer.
It’s not often that you get four awesome bands all while supporting a worthwhile organization, but that is exactly what happened to me. I was especially impressed by the diversity of the roster. Even though everyone was stylistically different, each band was unique and likeable in their approach to performing. I was never bored and really what more could you ask for on a Friday night?
Written by Shawn Thicke
Photography by Stacy Basque
*edited by Lia Davis