Fifty years after their first LP, The Sonics have returned with a new album and tour (yes, you heard that right, 50 years). I wasn’t around fifty years ago to have witnessed the reactions of parents everywhere, when their spawn decided to blast – Here Are The Sonics, on the turntable. Considering music at this point in time had little to no edge to it, I’m imagining the general reaction was that The Sonics were of the Devils cloth. With raging drums, distorted guitars and a Sax that wailed, The Sonics covered 50’s classics like no other band before or since. They also wrote some bangin’ songs that have inspired generations of garage and punk bands, most of which cannot hold a candle to one of the most influential bands this fair country has produced. Lines such as; “Some folks like water, some folks like wine… But I like the taste, of straight strychnine,” from their biggest hit Strychnine – still holds tremendous depth and value to this day.
As I made my way through the Irving Plaza floor, there was a big age gap in the attendees. I expected a ton of older folks at the show of course, but the amount of young people surprised me, but reaffirmed that The Sonics transcend age, as the music is legendary. First up was the highly energetic, Barrence Whitfield & The Savages, who threw down a quick set of Soul infused Rock that had the early arriving crowd dancing along. Mr. Whitfield and company put on a great set and couldn’t tell that they were the openers.
When the members of The Sonics emerged from the darkness, they all looked dapper in their suits and after a few waves to the crowd got right down to business with “Psycho,” which sounded exactly the same as the record. The vocals were like an offering to the gods, full of power and grit, that Jerry Roslie effortlessly belted out. At that very moment, I knew that this band wasn’t on some fucking victory tour, but rather had to be on that stage, the fire still burns deep and music must be played.
Combining their garage jams of the past and the songs off the new record, the set was incredible and inspiring. The new songs just may be better than those they wrote so many years ago, and if anything, they are harder and faster. “Bad Betty” perfectly demonstrated that these guys just aren’t touring off their old stuff because they were bored, they have something to say and we better listen. Originals – guitarist, Larry Parypa and Rob Lind on the Sax/Vox, worked seamlessly together and it was obvious they have been playing next to each other for a half a century. Lind was also the most active of the group, seemingly overjoyed at the fact that they were on the Irving Plaza stage, waved and fist pumped his way through the set in between his sizzling Sax work. Rounding out the group was bassist and screamer, Freddie Dennis and timekeeper Dusty Watson who held down the back end perfectly.
Near the end of the hour-long set, they brought out Flogging Molly guitarist, Dennis Casey, for a rousing rendition of “Cinderella”. After the main set they ambled back and threw down “Strychnine,” and ended the night with “The Witch”. Despite pleas of another encore, the band graciously stood onstage making eye contact with everyone in the room and at that moment knew that the word “Legends,” has a whole ‘nother meaning for me.
Article by: Shayne Hanley