Music

With Big Talk, Ronnie Vannucci demonstrates his skills beyond the drum kit

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Experts on rocking: Taylor Milne, left, and Ronnie Vannucci riff at the Bunkhouse.
Erik Kabik

Three and a half stars

Big Talk May 28, Bunkhouse Saloon.

Sometimes I don’t know which Ronnie Vannucci I prefer: the drummer or the frontman. The Killers’ timekeeper is one of, if not the best of the 2000s modern-rock movement, and his driving beats help define the Vegas band. They’re the reason he absolutely owns “Somebody Told Me,” the band’s cover of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay” and, frankly, the entirety of Sam’s Town.

But Tuesday night’s Big Talk show—its first local show in four years—reintroduced Vannucci as bandleader, one so visibly comfortable singing, playing guitar and bantering with the audience that you’d think he’d been doing it for years. That confidence goes a long way in selling not only a band that might appear extra-curricular to The Killers, but its songs, too. And Vannucci and his four-member backing band were so secure with the new material from their new record—Big Talk’s second effort, the hilariously titled Straight in No Kissin’, comes out July 24—that 11 of the 12 songs they performed came from it. Ballsy move, for sure, but it worked due to the strength of both the band and the new tunes.

Opener “Hold That Line” boasted the Ric Ocasek influence prevalent on Big Talk’s first record, though infused with some Queens of the Stone Age guitar scuzz and highway gallop. “Another Satellite” recalled ’90s grunge/indie rock, its character and narrative furthered by the texture from guitarist Taylor Milne and the instrumental build by the band as a whole. And Vannucci compellingly matched the punk pluck of short-but-sweet “La Rue D’Awakening” with vocal oomph.

“I’m a lead singer, I’m not just a drummer,” Vannucci said as he mock-flirted with an audience member. He might’ve tossed off the line for a laugh, but the joke’s on anyone dismissing Big Talk as a mere side project.

Setlist:

"Hold That Line"

"Animal Husband"

"What Happened to Delisa?"

"La Rue D’Awakening"

"Cocktail Party"

"I’ve Been Sentimental Lately"

"What the Night Can Do"

"All My Luvin’"

"White Dove"

"The Void"

"Another Satellite"

"Neon’s Not Enough Light"

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Mike Prevatt

Mike started his journalism career at UCLA reviewing CDs and interviewing bands, less because he needed even more homework and ...

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