EARL GREYHOUND with NO DYNAMICS and SPEED CONTROL at the Silver Dollar, January 18. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 137. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Bands who dress to impress are awesome. Yeah, there’s always the danger that absurd costumes are only meant to distract us from the fact that the artists wearing them are complete hacks (hi, Louis XIV!), but it’s hard not to love a group whose members unabashedly wear their rock ‘n’ roll hearts, quite literally, on their sleeves.
Brooklyn three-piece Earl Greyhound are an outstanding example of this phenomenon. Watching them take the Silver Dollar stage Thursday night, in all their dashiki’d, afro’d, long-haired, pimp-suited glory, I didn’t know whether to anticipate a dirty-ass Blowfly-funk attack, Sun Ra-style spiritual jazz bliss or raw, raunchy riffs.
So when Earl Greyhound launched into their tripped-out explosion of soul-injected stoner rock ‘n’ roll, heavy on groin-rattling bass lines and meth-paced guitar solos that spiralled into the stratosphere, it made total sense.
The band is like an alternate-reality version of C’mon, a balls-out power trio sprung from the loins of Led Zep, Bowie and 70s funk compared to Blurton’s boogie/metal one-night stand.
They’re solid musicians and great to watch. Bassist/backing vocalist Kamara Thomas relishes every low-end thud that comes out of her amp and delivers sultry harmonies and dirty grunts of punctuation with half-shut eyes. Weedy frontman Matt Whyte effortlessly blazes through wa-wa-filtered chords and technically stunning runs with a contented breeziness.
Perched at the biggest kit I’ve ever seen (seriously, dude, the kick drum was probably the size of a monster truck tire, and the cymbals towered above Thomas’s head), football-player-sized drummer Ricc Sheridan pounded impassively, maintaining his air of stoicism behind a set of shades. The only cracks in his stone-faced mask appeared when he traded his sticks for mallets and rumbled through sudden three-cymbal runs with gusto.
But after being captivated by Jeremy Finkelstein, the drummer for openers No Dynamics, who pummelled through rhythms so speedy and complex, his arms were a blur, I was underwhelmed by Sheridan.
Ultimately, though, Earl Greyhound’s biggest problem at the Dollar show was a major mic disparity. Perhaps the result of the way No Dynamics had set up, Whyte’s mic was turned way down, while Thomas’s levels sounded like they were intended for a frontperson. While her one stab at lead vocals was pristine, and her soulful backing bits floated above Earl Greyhound’s big, chunky riffs, you could barely hear a howl, coo or lyric that came out of his mouth.
At least you could focus on their outfits.