Bless the Jackpot for almost getting last night’s Ganglians show started early, as it was billed. Most often the venue’s shows don’t begin until after 11 p.m., running until last call — a dangerous venture for anyone with a morning gig.
L5 went on just before 10. Sort of, anyway — the band was missing a member and was unable to play its regular songs. The members who were able to make it launched into a seven-or-so-minute basement jam, which unfortunately probably wasn’t worth the effort of setting up the equipment. They packed it in after the one song. Not their night.
After a long day, I was having second thoughts about having come to a show that didn’t seem like it was going to ever materialize, but thankfully, Up the Academy
immediately roared with energy once its set began. The band’s dirty, sludgy garage rock and its heavy, hearty bass lines literally shook the building. And, wow — the percussion. Ricky Barkosky is a slight, young, sort of nerdy-looking guy who absolutely massacres his drum kit, moving fast while providing complex rhythms. The band had a lot of friends and fans in the audience, who were unable to resist shouting “Ricky!” throughout Up the Academy’s set and the next. The band barreled through over a dozen songs to a happy crowd, filling about half of the stage area — perhaps the best that you can hope for the day after a long weekend.
If you were to draft a Californian surf-garage singer, Ryan Grubbs of Ganglians
would be a top pick. Extremely tall and thin, with long, blond hair falling in his face, he opted not to wear shoes onstage. I’ve been seeing a lot of this lately. The Jackpot is one of the cleaner bars on Mass Street, but this is still highly inadvisable. Also perhaps inadvisable is the amount of reverb that the band requested. At a lower volume, I can see that it is part of its washed-out sound, but given the extraordinary loudness and bassiness that the Jackpot is fond of (I really need to remember earplugs next time), the songs were muddled, and the vocals and guitar work — which are so lovely on the band’s recordings — were practically drowned out. The strongest song was perhaps the band’s most well-known and most-rehearsed, “Jungle,” but overall the set was a bit lackluster, and the ever-smaller crowd, still trying to feel it, never quite got there.