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Bass Drum Of Death At The Bootleg, Wednesday April 24th 2013

DSCN6017In this more and more crowded garage-rock world, it becomes more and more difficult to describe any of the bands with that familiar punk-fuzzy sound, playing songs giving assaults over assaults, so may be I should give up and just listen to a mix tape of Wavves, Ty Segall, The Oh Sees, FIDLAR, King Tuff, TRMRS, Cosmonauts, The Strange Boys, White Fence, Allah-Las, The Soft Pack, Audacity, Bleached, Tijuana Panthers, Pangea, The Fresh & Onlys, The Orwells, Tomorrows Tulips – and I am only mentioning the ones I have seen in the last two years! Not that all these bands sound alike, but that’s the trick, they all have a distinctive identity, but you can scratch your head forever at trying to describe what make them stand out of the lot. And I can add to my list Bass Drum of Death, whose performance at the Bootleg on Wednesday night had the same ferocious rock’ n’ roll tone delivered with a punk energy than some of these other bands.


So what could differentiate them from all the others? First, I didn’t hear a great deal of 60s influences and harmonies despite numerous playful ooooohs and aaaaahs, ooweeoohs à la John Dwyer, but more than everything else, the trio seemed to know how to push the right buttons to trigger a raging mosh pit and serial stage diving… I know I have seen this a million times before, rowdy kids getting way too excited, but I never get tired of it!


With already two EPs, one LP ‘GB City’ and an upcoming one, they are about to release in June on Los Angeles Innovative Leisure Records (the label which has signed some of the above bands and more such as Hanni El Khatib, Allah Las, Nick Waterhouse, Tijuana Panthers, Crystal Antlers,…), the band from Oxford, Mississippi is not exactly a new comer, and the Bootleg crowd knew exactly what to expect. Did I mention the small club was totally packed? The trio kept it simple and basic, with just guitars and drums (but also a large collection of pedals) they produced a thunderously loud sound that made the crowd react at the first song. But I have to say that the two previous bands, Beach Party and Tijuana Panthers had already, and torridly, warmed up the place, so the following chaos was barely a surprise.


Hidden behind his long hair and bent on his guitar most of the time, John Barrett produced that insistent echoing yowl, largely buried into the reverb while trashing around the stage. The sound was mean and ferocious, often fast and aggressive, but the songs had different identities, with mellower or sunnier ones. Still, the same amount of energy was deployed the whole time on each side of the stage, and you can tell a show is successful when there is this powerful exchange between a head banging audience and the musicians, and when the security guards have step in with flash lights to stop the diving and surfing. ‘Can they mosh for one song?’ asked Barrett to the security. This was just what all these kids wanted, after this, it was definitively out of control, and I think Hanni El Khatib, who was watching the whole scene from the back of the stage, even took part into the stage diving. I mean it was quite dark and I was just trying to keep my feet on the ground.


You probably have already heard these surf-rock backing vocals, this biting sound and mad energy, these charging riffs and abrasive wall of distortion, but Bass Drum of Death sounded like a sloppier and punkier Jack White, embracing the Stooges-raw-power idea and doing a let’s-unleash-everything-we have-inside performance without too much thinking. If I am still looking for the element that will make them stand out the pack, all the pushing and the surfing reminded me that this is probably a band at its best live – and they are currently on tour with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club!



Velvet itch

Nerve Jamming

Bad reputation (Thin Lizzy cover)

White fright

Spare room

No demons

GB City


Crawling after you

Young Pros

Shattered me

Get foundDSCN6015

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