By Michael Humel, Editor-in-Chief
The Dirty Hooks, Jack and the B-Fish and The Stone Foxes from San Francisco played The Backstage Bar on this past Friday June 7th. The tickets said the doors open at seven. By the time the doors opened past eight at night, ten people had already left and I had been waiting an hour to get in and was being repeatedly told in a few minutes. It wasn’t until the owner of the bar was outside saw everyone waiting that we were finally allowed in.
Once inside the venue itself was wide open with a big bar, pool tables and a nice low stage with no barriers so you had a personal intimate experience. The first band Jack and the B-fish was supposed to go on at nine and didn’t start playing until a half an hour later due to sound problems that would plague the first two bands. The first song they played no one could hear the lead singers vocal. The band had a saxophonist which I thought was a unique element. However, the sound was mainly drowned out by the loud guitar, It might have also been due to the sound problems that had been occurring all night. I didn’t think of this as a bad thing. I just wish I was able to hear the sax more. On the record you can definitely hear the saxophone and it adds dimension to the band that wasn’t in the live show. As the show went on and the sound problems went away the band finally found a sound that reminded me of a mix between George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Cake, Reel Big Fish and Sublime. Lead singer Kevin Kilfeather had a powerful rockin growl on Feed (from the television screen) and lovebird that was a highlight in the bands performance. The song keez was different from the other songs in that the guitar and vocal gave more of an alternative rock feel that I enjoyed. While playing the set the Mark Szymanski and Kevin Kilfeather were making jokes adding to the personality of the band. “This one is dedicated to North Korea” said Szymanski and then they started playing the Star Spangled Banner.
The Dirty Hooks was the second band to take the stage. What struck me about this band first was its multi dimensional abilities. On the song Down By The Riverside Bobby McCall plays triple duty singing, playing bass and the harmonica. The songs Down By The Riverside and Breaking The Skin gave Jenine Cali her best vocals of the night. The back and forth vocals between Bobby McCall and Jenine Cali was one of the highlights of their set. Anthony Ratto played an impressive lead guitar as well as playing the keys on Down by the riverside, moonshine hustle, breaking the skin and cicada tree. The only artist I can pinpoint that the band reminded me of was Jack White. The Dirty Hooks play rock and blues but they do it in such a way that is unique. My favorite lyrical moments I was waiting for while watching the show was “Children of the night are living for the day” from the song Dancing with a train “I wanna be your confederate lover, I wanna be your confederate man” from Kerosene Fire and “She gonna dance with the devil in the light of moon” from Moonshine Hustle. The lyrics throughout the Electric Grit album is creative and poetic. The Dirty Hooks is one of my favorite local bands and Electric Grit is a hardrock blues, groove filled adventure that needs to be heard.
The Stone Foxes from San Francisco was the last band to take the stage. When I began watching the show I thought they were a unique band. I heard many influences within the set, the most prominent being The Band and The Black Keys. They had a mellow rock feel with light grooves. I had no idea at the time what the show was about to turn into. Halfway through the set drummer Shannon Koehler came out from behind his drum set to the front of the stage. He was replaced by another drummer. He began singing and turned the rest of the bands set into a jam session involving the front row of the audience. Shannon jumped off the stage and traded singing parts with a couple of the women in the audience. They did everything they could to get everyone involved and make sure people had a good time. When they played the slow easy to sing along to Passenger Train it became my favorite moment in there set. The Stone Foxes were the most crowd engaging band I have ever seen. They made me wish they would move to Las Vegas so I could see them perform again.
Overall I would go to this venue to see more shows or just spend time with friends and play pool. However, if you go to see a show at this venue be aware you may be waiting a while to get in and the sound may have problems throughout the night.