Velvet Jones was treated to some serious rock on Saturday night. And though the crowd was not as large as they would be for some of the bands’ members’ other groups – comedy driven Tenacious D and punk epitome Bad Religion – the music was great and the energy on stage was electric.
After some delay, Bad Religion drummer Brooks Wackerman‘s Kidneys opened the evening. A very talented trio of musicians outside the band, Kidneys feel and sound overqualified for an opening slot. “The Engine,” their first song, set the tone for the set with loud, chugging, palm muted punk riffs that shook the floor when played live.
Wackerman, known better for his drumming, proved himself a viable guitarist and singer onstage. (He also wrote, produced, and recorded drums on all the tracks the band plays.) On the drums at Velvet Jones, however, was Death By Stereo‘s Todd Henning, who managed to play loud without ever missing a beat. His playing is finely sophisticated, but never boring. Similarly, bassist John Spiker (of Tenacious D and Filter fame) gave the set a low, rumbling thunder feel.
Versatile as they are, Kidneys have a very punk rock formula. They shook things up, though, with “De Lemur,” which had a sing-along chorus reminiscent of Nirvana.
The headliners were under assumed names. Kyle Gass, half of Tenacious D, played guitar as Klip Calhoun. With him was lead singer Jason Reed (Daryl Lee Donald), guitarist John Konesky (John Bartholomew Shredman), bassist John Spiker (Boy Johnny), and drummer Nate Rothacker (Dallas St. Bernard).
Their set was loud, banter-filled, and downright hilarious – and the music and crowd were good too. Reed, better known to most as Lee, donned black leather duds and a mullet and lumbered around stage singing gleefully, even sharing frontman duties with his fellow bandmates throughout the show.
Trainwreck’s Southern rock feel was a bit ironic for the strange humor, and Gass in a cowboy hat still did not convince anyone that they were Allman Brothers-style serious, but their music was fun and they played passionately, even if it was with good laughs. The highlight of the night: Gass’s virtuoso flute playing, which could have easily been a joke but proved to be a wonder. Trainwreck is a clever joke backed by genuine musicianship and ripe with enjoyment for the audience. One should be ready, though, because the band enjoys themselves plenty too.