Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: The Howlin’ Thurstons at Lakeside Lounge, NYC 12/4/08

The Howlin’ Thurstons are our kind of band, and it’s obvious their fans love them. And they should: this band is fun, funny and really good. They’ve been playing Lakeside Lounge off and on since 2001, maybe before then, and pretty much nowhere else. From the looks of it, they’re in this strictly for fun, and that comes across bigtime in their fiery, clever, imaginative instrumentals. Last night, they got the world’s #1 surf music impresario Unsteady Freddy dancing in his chair, smiling and taking lots of photos, which in the world of instrumental rock is pretty high praise. With their two guitars and rhythm section, the most obvious comparison is Link Wray, and like the one-lunged indian they like to push the envelope a bit: you could call them a surf band, surf punk maybe, but there’s a distinctively original, noisy, playful edge to everything they do. Half the time it seems they’re messing with your ears, to see if you’re paying attention, if you got that clever quote or little musical joke or if they just threw it past you, high and inside.

 

One of their early songs sounded something like Firewater playing Hawaii 5-0, with a furious, noisy solo from the A train guy (band members each have their own individual New York City subway t-shirts: the Telecaster player reps the A, his counterpart – on what looked like a vintage Epiphone like the one Robert Smith used to play – takes the 1; the drummer, the 7 and – it was hard to see from behind the Ms. Pac Man game – it looks like the bassist is on the 6). They followed that with a galloping, chromatically-charged minor-key one with some nasty, searing solos from the 1 train guy. Their version of Apache was eerie, pounding, sarcastic and absolutely killer, like what the Dead Kennedys might have done with it. The song that followed might have been a cover of Thriller by Michael Jackson (did they steal that from Chicha Libre?), winding up with an offhandly amusing quote from Strangers in the Night. And then the bass player got the opening hook from Billy Jean going, which the crowd loved. What was funniest about it was how deadpan the band delivered it, as if it was just another surf song that everybody knows. The best of their originals were Dick Marmalade, Private Eye, a detective theme as Link Wray might have amped it up, and Road Rage, a simple hotrod instrumental that the Tele player ended with a nasty pickslide. Obviously, these are smart musicians who really know their stuff, but they do it so effortlessly and guilelessly that it’s impossible to resist smiling and nodding along with it. See for yourself the next time they play, at Lakeside most likely. 

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December 5, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews

2 Comments »

  1. I second this reviewer’s notion. The Howlin’ Thurstons kicked ass! It was a tight, upbeat show filled with contagious fun. I’ll definitely be back next time.

    Comment by Aviva | December 7, 2008 | Reply

  2. The Howlin’ Thurston’s were simply amazing. I would travel to the ends of the earth to see these guys again. Ok well maybe not the end sof the earth, but I would certianly go way out of my way.

    Rock on Guys.

    Comment by John Reda | December 9, 2008 | Reply


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