On my third night of the 3rd annual CBGB Festival, I made my way to The Trash Bar to catch STRNGRS, one of NYC’s best up-and-coming bands. I didn’t expect the four bands that played before the local trio to be so entertaining and seemingly in the “CBGB Mold”; loud, brash, and full of attitude.
If you never had the pleasure of going to the original CBGB’s then be sure to hit up the trash bar some night as it is somewhat similar (don’t cut my head off for the comparison) right down to the stale piss smell complete with graffiti and stickers covering the walls. It was, in fact, the perfect venue to celebrate the legendary CBGB past. The drinks are as cheap as gets in this city, for a small and smelly club the sound and lighting were more than adequate for any music fan.
Starting the night was the 60’s rock inspired, Honey Wild, who were the mellowest band of the long night but had a few catchy tunes that kept the small crowd entertained. Next up was Bridges & Powerlines, another local rock band with a hard pop/punk feel that has many songs named after Brooklyn neighborhoods. B&P had the only keyboard on stage of the night, but unlike the zillion hipster bands that overuse the instrument, used it sparingly and wisely.
The third band of the night, The Howl, came all the way from Chicago and had the growing crowd bouncing and grooving with some excellent garage/punk rock. These guys are a really talented group as each member sang parts of songs and they had a presence about them that I can’t quite put my finger on but there’s something special with these guys and are worth checking out.
The surprise of the night came in the form of J and the 9s, who absolutely shredded their set and melted everyone’s faces off in the process. In essence this group is true punk rock, who would of fit in seamlessly into the original CBGB crowd – but a further look reveals much more as there were metal chords, blues riffs and a fucking flute amidst the madness! J9 who likes to dress up in a different and insane costume for each show could be the bastard child of David Bowie, Patty Smith and Jethro Tull but has a distinct persona of her own that helps this vessel be very unique. In between her yelps, shouts and screams J9 was a non-stop barrage of fleeting movement that was hard to keep up with but was totally entertaining and off the cuff. She spent as much time in the audience and on the floor as she did the stage, and at one point crawled around my legs, not unlike a cat begging for a treat, which I would of gladly obliged.
The band fills out with Ben on the kit who through down nasty fucking beats all night paired perfectly with the pounding bass of KouqJ, who reminded me a bit of the late great Cliff Burton. Frankie Figz completes the foursome with laser like precision on the guitar and even pulled a behind the head move without missing a beat like one of my favorites, Mike McCready. This band is dynamic, it is beyond unique and will go far as long as they stick to their roots. Be sure to watch this video I took to see J9 and company in action.
Shortly after midnight, and with a near packed house, STRNGRS took the stage and proceeded to do what they do best – rock your face off. The Brooklyn trio has been making waves in the local music scene for awhile now and caught my attention while opening up for guitar hero, Reignwolf, this summer. Some say they are reminiscent of the Black Keys but after seeing them a few times now am confident that is fiction. STRNGRS are a band that draws heavily on blues riffs with a 90’s alternative attitude with no frills.
Being a drummer I tend to watch them more than most but Chase McGowan is one of those dudes you must pay attention to. His style is unique on the kit, he hits hard, keeps perfect time and hits a ton while standing adding a bit of flair. Garrett Drinon is so good at what he does, he doesn’t even need a bassist to fill out the sound. It is not a trick nor is it anything worth talking about more than a mention that STRNGRS does not use a bass, ever. Garrett has it all under control with nasty blues riffs and straight to the point but dirty solos. Lead Singer, Carson Kelley rounds out the group with amazing vocals and occasional harmonica playing. Evidently he is a hit with the ladies too as I overheard a few “oooh he is gorgeous” from the fans. STRNGRS play a ton of shows so be sure to catch them sooner than later and next week they play our FREE CMJ showcase at Pianos 6:30pm sharp on Saturday, October 25th, which you shouldn’t miss! Check out this video I took to hold you over!
Article by: Shayne Hanley
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