Monday, December 7, 2009


Thursday, March 20, 2008 
East Brunswick Club

The Ooga Boogas are a band that rarely get mentioned when people discuss what’s hot on the local music scene, and tonight they prove why. Mid-paced bar-band garage boogie may well kick arse at the 2AM slot at Pony when you’re off your head on spiked beer, but when the following bands are renown for their ability to kickstart a crowd like a Hercules then a little more energy wouldn’t go astray. Though their set could have taken place any time in the last 30 years and the singer’s weak voice does their upbeat-party vibe no favours, Mikey Young is a crusading Cramps-esque killer on the guitar, picking up the song every time he’s given a chance to shine. When they push into post-garage stomp territory and stretch out the riffs they become something slightly more interesting. Closing song Oogie Boogie (yep, these guys are for real) gets to the point the fastest, and keeps it there, also giving Young the chance to stretch out.

By the beginning of Jay Reatard’s set the venue is packed and the hilariously nerdish-looking band waste no time kicking into top gear in the way Garth from Waynes World would. Bassist Stephen Pope (a cross between Jonah Hill and Jack Black) uses most of the stage he can reach with his lead, pulling out every move Bill And Ted ever made. Tracks See/Saw, Nightmares, Hammer I Miss You and Waiting For Something edge ahead of the other tracks purely on the virtue of their having a hint of dynamics and slightly more intensity than the other tracks, all of which sound identical (though don’t on record). V-shaped guitars, screeching feedback as Reatard shouts the name of the next song and no tracks over three minutes are the order of the day, and that’s pretty much all the band do. But shit do they do it well.

The Dirtbombs raise their sights a little higher and win us over in seconds flat, but this doesn’t seem to be a repeat of the now-legendary soul-revue-style brilliance they brought last time. Having said that, from the crowd-riling opener Underdog onward we’re hardly given a chance to sweat so little let-up do they give us. Sweat does run, though, in buckets from compelling singing and clumsy guitar-playing frontman Mick Collins; even his guitar is running sweat as he ties us to the back of the Dirtbomb and drags us through the highlights of their pretty damn extensive back catalogue. Covers of Ever Lovin’ Man, I Heard Her Call My Name, and the much-hyped set-closer Need You Tonight are all sweetly done. Collins and bassist Troy Gregory bring the party while ’fuzz bassist’ Ko Melina brings the noise, drummer Pat Pantano is amazingly sharp while second-drummer Ben Blackwell seems largely (sacrilege I know) redundant. Their encore of I Can’t Stop Thinking About It is a clear highlight (and missing from their Golden Plains set) and leaves fans clamouring for merch before some much-needed fresh air. Damn good night.

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