5 thoughts on Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s May 31 show at Vinyl

Peter Hayes of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
Photo: Scott Harrison/Kabik Photography

1. BRMC, in many ways, is the musical equivalent of a steak, with a sound that’s raw and heavy with little fat to trim. It’s Southern-tinged blues-garage at its finest (though the band hails from San Francisco), in part because BRMC keeps the orchestration simple and lets its musicianship do the talking. This might be one of the few shows I’ve seen inspire true, full-on headbanging from the audience.

2. That said, a set spanning well over two hours felt a little self-indulgent. The simplicity of BRMC’s music is a strength, but it also means that for better or for worse, you get the idea after an hour and a half, tops. By the end, the crowd had thinned to about a third its original size.

3. Guitarist/bassist/vocalist Robert Levon Been is a madman on his instruments, playing his bass like a shredding guitarist while endowing his guitar with a thick bassline on songs like “Hate the Taste,” which featured two guitars and no bass at all.

4. You always have to wonder about that one guy at shows standing still while everyone is dancing. While the crowd collectively pogoed to the driving tunes, he stood resolutely still in front of me, in defiance of both my dance moves and my personal space, like some kind of human conduit for buzz-killing vibes.

5. Perhaps Vinyl should consider instituting a “no-blocks-of-ballads-after-midnight” policy. While BRMC is one of the rare bands whose slow numbers are as strong as its uptempo anthems, it devoted almost the entire second half of the show to ballads (largely from 2005’s excellent Howl), which nearly put the crowd to sleep. It doesn’t matter how good your band is—a well-balanced, well-paced setlist is key for a successful show.

Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.

Photo of Andrea Domanick

Andrea Domanick

Get more Andrea Domanick

Previous Discussion:

Top of Story