Lucid Culture


Concert Review – Des Roar at Mercury Lounge, NYC 10/20/08

Discover this powerful, exciting, loud two-guitar band now before some douchebag site like flavorpill does. If you don’t, you’ll have to fight your way through the crowds to see them. They packed the Mercury Lounge on a Monday night: if this had been the weekend, no question the show would have sold out. You heard it here first: Des Roar are the Next Big Thing, which is awfully nice to see because they’re good and will get even better. Live, they don’t come across as snide and dismissive as the songs on their myspace would have you believe, but their energy was still good. They didn’t talk to the audience much. It looked like they were trying to pack as many songs as possible into their too-brief, barely 40-minute set, and, besides, they look like a crew who know how much a little mystery adds to a performance.


They started the show trying to get their amps to howl with feedback, but that didn’t really work (the volume was too low, which was actually ok because the sound levels were perfect). Then they launched into a percussive classical melody, working their way deliberately up the scale until frontman Ben Wolcott lit into the deliciously evil riff that kicks off their best song, Ted Bundy Was a Ladies Man. It’s a genuine classic, a sarcastic, black humor-driven lyric set to an evilly catchy, pounding minor-key melody, this time capped by a long, bloodcurdling scream from their drummer. They ended the song with the same big climb they used to start it. And then segued into another, and another, oldschool punk rock style.


The fourth song of the set was an imaginative, pounding, minimalist reworking of the old blues classic Baby Please Don’t Go, sounding like White Hassle gone completely punk – Wolcott has something of Marcellus Hall’s deadpan sarcasm and jaundiced view of romance. Finish What You Started, from the band’s myspace, was sung by the drummer, with a sort of 90s Britrock feel like Blur with distorted guitar. She proved to be an excellent singer with a strong, soul-inflected voice, adding a whole new dimension to the music. When in Rome, bopping along on a fast Motown bassline, came off as something of a Strokes parody and the audience loved it.


The rest of the set was hook-driven, mostly mid- to uptempo stuff blending elements of punk, blues and even some 60s-style soul. The rhythm section kept it tight and simple, lead player Alan O’Keeffe was tasteful and incisive when he needed to be and Wolcott stayed within himself: no preening, posing or bleating in this band.


Sensing the need to get the crowd to scream for an encore, O’Keeffe tried to get a clap-along going before their last song had even finished, but there was no need: the sound guy knew what was up, so they wrapped up the set with an aptly snarling, midtempo cover of the Jesus & Mary Chain’s Kill Surf City. Des Roar’s next show is at 9 PM on Nov 12 at Fontana’s: you might want to show up a little early. 

October 21, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | , , , ,


  1. Yeah man, these guys are the shit!

    Comment by ohrobot | November 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. Des Roar really deserves alot more recognition. Seeing them live for the first time at Arlene’s Grocery a few weeks ago convinced me of it!

    Comment by danger | November 30, 2008 | Reply

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