In all honesty, I have no idea how I made it to AJ’s Bar and Restaurant on the 19th, last Saturday. I like the cold, much more than I enjoy the heat. Waking up in the morning and seeing everything cloaked in white makes me happy. But it was REALLY cold on the 19th. Blinded by the cold, I was hoping that the sound of music would make its way to my ears and guide my way, and it did! The heat in AJ’s bar was a blessing and as I seated myself comfortably, I hoped that the show would be worth me nearly dying in the cold. It was a hit and miss, to say the least.
The first band of the night was The Whiskey Chase. Those of you who have followed my reviews know that punk isn’t something I appreciate a lot. But when it’s done well and in an original manner, I’m all for it. The Whiskey Chase hit me right from the start with their wall of guitars. With three of them ripping it up on stage, one would think the bassist would be barely heard, but you’d be wrong. The bass lines were fluid and took as much space in the music as the three guitarists and the drummer. The dual vocals were a nice touch, but they kept it punk, which means most of the lyrics were screamed. I was surprised at how tight the music sounded for such a full band. Usually, you can tell which member has trouble keeping up, but these guys kept it real. All in all, I enjoyed their punk rock mixed in with some mad grooves and solid melodies.
Next up was the band who stole the show. Bad Skin is more of an “in your face” type of punk. The song structures are very similar to each other, which might sound repetitive for a longer show, but it was perfect for the time they were on. Front girl Dope totally kicked ass. Backed up by her army of mayhem, Bad Skin have a dominating stage presence, making it hard to take your eyes off them. From the singer jumping into the crowd to rile things up, to their cover of “Barbie Girl,” I was hooked. Although the lead guitarist could have cranked up the volume, her solos were always on time, raging above the groundwork laid down by a heavy rhythm section. The crowd seemed dead at times, but they made do with what they had and continuously prompted everyone to move forward. It was a great show, both in musical talent and showmanship.
I had some issues with the last band of the evening. Psychocide hustled to put on a good show, but failed on a few points. The songs were uninspiring and failed to keep the crowd alive, except for the few last songs when the ladies of Bad Skin marched to the stage and partied. There was also a big sound problem during their set, which was not there for the other two bands. The vocals were uneven, with the lead not being loud enough and backing vocals being too loud. The guitar could’ve also been louder, as it was difficult to distinguish the riffs and melodies. Individually, they seemed like good musicians; the solos were reminiscent of 80s hair metal and the bass lines were well laid out over the drums. But as a unit, it fell apart. There was a very cool and well-done rockabilly breakdown where they transitioned into “Hit the Road Jack,” but I won’t even talk about their cover of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper”… Their studio albums might be worth seeking out to compare, but as it goes for the live performance, it needs some work.
As the night came to a close, it was time to brave the cold. It was a strange night to say the less, but an entertaining one nonetheless. I had obvious problems and negative comments about one of the bands, but as always, you might like them, so check them out!
Written by Johnathan Robinson
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Kate Erickson