The Longshot With The Trash Bags, Frankie And The Studs At The Hi Hat, Monday May 7th 2018
The Hi Hat is becoming my favorite place in town,… How does this small Highland club manage to secure such high profile acts? Not long ago I was there for an intimate evening with Weezer’s frontman Rivers Cuomo, and yesterday night, The Longshot, Billie Joe Armstrong’s new band, played there a very intimate and super crowded concert. The small venue is also my best-kept secret because I managed to get a ticket for both events so let’s hope this lasts for a while.
Green Day, or anything connected to Billie Joe Armstrong is a big deal and the line to get in was already very long when I arrived there just after work. Two bands were opening The Trash Bags and Frankie and the Studs, and looking at all these leather pants, the night had a very rock ‘n’ roll attitude.
The Trash Bags, a band from New York City, was voracious and badass, they had this old school garage rock ‘n’ roll sound, with deep beach-goth guitar lines and punk accelerations, while their killer-looking frontman, who was as tightly wrapped in his black leather jacket and pants as an Elvis Presley come-back, went into the crowd several times. The first song, ‘Crimes’, was an aggressive Stooges-ish number, while the next one had Spanish guitars followed by a touch of rockabilly here, a few Cramps-like horror riff on ‘Too Bad’, and overall a sharp-looking sound. The singer had a badass NYC drawl and everything about them was looking for that brand of dirty rock ‘n’ roll with powerchords, you can sing with plenty of style.
Frankie and the Studs continued the black leather theme of the night, with a wild and high energy set fronted by singer/guitarist Frankie Clarke, who did a notable cover of Nick Gilder’ Hot Child in the City’. With her tight black jumpsuit, she immediately made me think about a new Joan Jett, she had the sparks and a sort of glam rock look with her platform shoes and ’70s mullet. Everything seemed very natural to her, probably because she was born in rock ‘n’ roll, as her dad is guitarist Gilby Clarke, formerly of Guns N’ Roses, something she can’t escape. She had a sweet voice and the music had punch, lots of legs apart and an in-your-face attitude. In 2018, is it still possible to see rock ‘n’ roll as a symbol of freedom and rebellion? After much discussion on the fate of punk-glam-rock, it’s refreshing (or hopeless) to know that young people can still believe in the power of a good chorus and a T-Rex-like chord,… The Sunset strip’s glorious days are not coming back, but the dream is still alive.
Then it was the turn of the heroes du jour, The Longshot, fronted by Billie Joe Armstrong and surrounded by his Green Day bandmate, bassist Jeff Matika, as well as guitarist Kevin Preston and drummer David Field from Prima Donna. The enthusiasm of the crowd was at its apotheosis when they arrived on stage, and they didn’t let us breathe for a minute during a high energy set filled with their catchy choruses, and the sing-alongs that come with them. The Longshot has released an album last month, ‘Love Is For Losers’, and people already knew all the lyrics of all the songs, bouncing along the songs’ sticky melodies. It was a happy spectacle, watching such unifying energy while Armstrong and his bandmates seemed to have a great time.
And we were only 5 songs deep in the setlist that they were already covering the Ramones, then a bit later The Replacements, The Rolling Stones, The Nerves, The Crickets (or the Clash, depending on how you see things), David Bowie, Generation X and of course Green Day. They barely made a pause, they barely caught their breath, Kevin Preston was jumping in the air like a rock god and the entire band seemed to be on a mission, a mission to save rock ‘n’ roll in just one night.
They rushed through their set with the booming power of a new one like ‘Cult Hero’ followed by a Green Day song, leaving me perplex for two reasons: How can you possibly make the difference between the two bands? And how is Billie Joe Armstrong able to write so many songs with that same mass appeal?
The 21-song set sounded upbeat, bubbly, pop-punky with a very Green Day touch, and all you wanted to do was foot-tap and sing along. However, the atmosphere was starting to be so sweaty and so hot that any additional movement felt completely unnecessary.
It was a great night for rock ‘n’ roll, with a band determined to expedite their songs in the pantheon of classics, bookending them with so many legends, while boosting the moods of these people for the entire week. If they weren’t probably punk enough to start a mosh pit, they were pop enough to make everyone dance and their new album was the perfect blend of garage rock and power pop to play in a dive bar.
They closed their set with Generation X’ ‘Kiss Me Deadly’, that Billie introduced as his favorite song ever, whereas he or any of his bandmates hadn’t been very talkative all night long: they had let the music talk, full volume and restlessly in front of a parterre of die-hard fans, and what else should they have done?
At the time I was writing this, guitarist Kevin Preston posted on the band’s Facebook page that the band’s remaining shows on the West Coast have just been postponed due to a serious family emergency. The band had a show in Santa Ana on Tuesday night and other upcoming shows in San Francisco, Seattle and Bellingham. Hopefully everything will be okay soon and the band can resume its tour soon.
Kill Your Friends
Rockaway Beach (Ramones)
Bastards of Young (The Replacements)
As Tears Go By (The Rolling Stones)
Fell for You (Green Day)
Walking Out On Love (The Nerves)
Love is For Losers
Turn Me Loose
The Last Time
Stay the Night (Green Day)
I Fought the Law (The Crickets)
Chasing a ghost
Love is for Losers
Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
Kiss Me Deadly (Generation X)