It's always the nights when you expect nothing out of life that you end up getting your face rocked off for a couple of hours and then top off the night dancing sockfooted in the back room of a bar.
Last Monday evening began at the Record Bar, where a local band I'd never heard of, Bleeding Hands, was set to open up for the Heartless Bastards of Cincinatti (not to be confused with the Heartless Bastards of Washington, DC). Having watched the band intently, I have come up with two theories as to why the Bleeding Hands' hands are bleeding: (1) from playing too hard on the drums, guitar, bass and Fender Rhodes; (2) from rolling rocks across your mama's flowerbed and ruining her irise, for no other reason than to watch her run out onto the porch in a dirty yellow slip with her pendulous breasts falling all out the top. Indeed, there's plenty of lust and rebellion left in Stones-influenced Southern rock, and that's why we're lucky to have this new band, along with others like the Pink Socks, and, well, that's all I can think of that really fit the bill, locally, though the Gaslights are certainly close (but a little more country).
Speaking of the Socks, one of the Bleeding Hands, singer and guitarist Matt Erickson, used to be in a band with those guys called the Litigators, and Erickson's new band kicks ass in a similar way, musically, if not performatively (there's no wild frontman in Bleeding Hands, yet). Monday night was their second show ever, so it was noticeably rough at times, with several fuckups they owned up to with smiles, but they had a ball and I love what they're going for — rock that has soul. Most soulful bandmember that night was ex-Gaslights bassist Johnny Eggerman, who played guitar and keys and whatever else they gave him to wail on, and sang -- and boy could he sang. He's got the kind of voice that's so hoarse and loud it grates and strangles just about every note he tries to belt out, and it sounds fuckin' great. It's like a hardcore punk singer sitting in with a roadhouse band. Speaking of punks, badass drummer Rachel Myers used to be in Hot Fruit and currently beats skins for the Rather Nots, which are/were both all-or-mostly-all-girl punk bands. On another side of the spectrum, Bleeding bassist Justin Rogers plays for Jon Yeager and mod rock band Seaside Riot, which was on the verge of breakup there for a minute but is back in the ruckus.
But none of that matters. All that's important is that when the Hands come together, they bleedin' rock, and all signs indicate they will.
The Heartless ones were juuuust fine. As with the last non-blues Fat Possum band that came through, the Bastards drew a small contingent of fans who knew the words to songs and weren't embarrassed to dance and yell all night. That was OK with me. The band — a three piece with occasional keys -- has a powerful, dark and trashy pulse that petite singer and guitarist Erika Wennerstrom spurs along with her howl. She evokes a young Robert Plant at his most baleful (don't say he couldn't do it — "Battle of Evermore," motherfucker!), and her guitar could drive loose nails back into the wall, but I was disappointed she didn't have any backup vocal help from the two boys in her band. That'd really round out their sound. So, Erica: Fire that doofy bass player and get one who can sing.
It was then decreed that we all (by which I mean me, my friend Highball; Jon Yeager; Richard Gintowt; a guy whose destiny at James Bond theme parties is to be Oddjob; and two respectable ladies named Jen and Juice) go to Karma. It was at this Karma place that I would later realize that the problem with a $10 minimum charge on credit card transactions is not that you end up spending more, but that you end up drinking more, especially when the cocktails are only two freakin' dollars. Fortunately, I had read from the biblical book of Morrissey earlier and was on fairly strong guard against embarrassing myself — otherwise, I would have ended up with my shirt off instead of just my shoes and jacket when we were all sockhopping in the back room -- me, Highball, Gintowt, and the two tall drinks a' woman. I apologize to the night's excellent DJs, Automatic Westy and Tony Bagga Donuts, that their most appreciative audience chose to dance in seclusion. Thanks for the tunes, boys.