The Bottom Dollars brought their best game to Bowery Ballroom on Friday night for two sets that included covers, guest guitarists, singers, and even an LED hula hooper. It’s rare these days to see a rock band whose music is self conscious well informed of their musical choices, but this isn’t another indie rock band from Brooklyn. This is a rock and roll band whose reverence for classics like The Clash and The Band made their concert an appealing fusion of garage and punk tropes playing off whiskey drenched southern rock licks.
Sitting down with the band before the show, I found that the band started as a side-project in 2011 with drummer Evan Berg, guitarist and lead singer Brian Cherchiglia, and bassist Chris Urriola all of whom attended Berklee School of Music in Boston together. They decided to make The Bottom Dollars their main priority after moving to Brooklyn and their first E.P. Halcyon Days garnered a lot of buzz in the local rock scene.
Since 2011, The Bottom Dollars have gone through a few lineup changes, but have settled as a quartet adding Sean Spada on keys. The band has kept a completely DIY status, skirting record labels and recording everything themselves. They admit this route has hindered publicity but, Cherchiglia notes, he’s “taking the Allman Brothers route” which he clarifies as being “in it for the long haul” and not dying in a plane accident. Their “lifer” status mixes with a humble self-effacement that’s fresh and admirable in today’s rock and roll landscape.
One of my favorite tunes off of their first full length Meet Me in Cognito (released in February of 2014) is “The Devil’s Night,” which features Spada’s rollicking boogie woogie piano licks and Cherchiglia rapping in a Brian Setzer-like patter. When probed about the song’s inspiration, Cherchiglia says that it was written as a Tom Waits inspired run on about a guy tripping on acid in Park Slope who’s running away from the devil. During the show, the song had everyone on their feet dancing and spontaneously spinning their neighbors.
Meet Me in Cognito was also recorded by one of their favorite producers John Siket who’s known for his work with Sonic Youth, Phish, and The Replacements. It was recorded over a short inspiration burst of five days and then took 5 months to mix and master.
Cherchiglia also revealed that the band knows a “wedding band’s” worth of cover songs which spans from the expected classic rock like Waits, Bruce Springsteen and The Who to heavier and less expected influences like Iron Maiden or Nine Inch Nails.
The band played two covers at the Bowery Ballroom. In the first set they played “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones, and saw guest guitarist Mick Maverick of the Nuclears and female vocalist Skurt Vonnegut Jr. of Deathrow Tull come up and play along. The second set saw the cover of the Clash’s “Clampdown” with Maverick coming back to reprise his role as a second guitar, and also had one of Boston’s “self proclaimed rock star” Mick Greenwood come up to sing a verse or two.
In the interview we went over a sprawling amount of somewhat random conversations. We managed to connect on having been ten feet away from each other at the same Phish show at Bonnaroo in 2009, swapped stories about hearing life changing records for the first time, and other things that were laughed about and prefaced with “don’t print this…” so I won’t. Oh and of course, in partial honor of Pancakes and Whiskey, a bottle of Jameson magically showed up and we all took shots before the show.
Other highlights of the show was the faux-country ballad “Pieces” and their showstopper encore “Prizefighter.” “Prizefighter” rocked the socks off the few of us who made it to nearly 1am, with some of us hangbanging and flailing around the dancefloor in fits of personal abandonment. It was a great way to end the show and I suggest checking out The Bottom Dollars if you get a chance.
Article by: Steven Klett
Photos by: Nicholas Fallon