Blues Explosion at Diesel

9 Aug

review written by Dan Allen
all photos by Alex Giron

The Blues Explosion casually walked onto the stage of Pittsburgh, PA’s Club Diesel on Thursday, July 15th, and immediately started into a fine set of songs, proving to a new generation of fans–who danced and shook side-by-side next to long-time enthusiasts–that one of the best live bands of the 20th century is more than capable of holding the same title well into the 21st. Jon Spencer, Judah Bauer and Russell Simins tore through tunes from every era of the group, effortlessly mixing well-known anthems (“She Said”, “Wail”, “Bellbottoms”) in between their sadly-lesser-known-but-just-as-essential tunes (“High Gear”, “R.L. Got Soul”, “Hell”). As always, some well-chosen covers (Chain Gang’s “Son Of Sam” and Dub Narcotic Sound System’s “Fuck Shit Up”) rounded out the show.

While some attendees mentioned that the house sound at the beginning of the Blues Explosion set was lacking, everything seemed mighty-fine to my ears…then again, I was standing next to a stack of speakers throughout their performance. Technical difficulties with Spencer’s theremin were fixed prior to the end of the evening; the resulting wall of eerie sound filled the room and brought the event to an appropriately ear-blistering conclusion. With recent re-issues of their previously out-of-print material now currently available through fine labels such as In The Red Records and Major Domo, I’m looking forward to seeing the Blues Explosion laying down their distinctive version of distorted rock action on a stage in the very near future.

Icon Gallery sadly had to start playing soon after doors opened, so only a small portion of the crowd were lucky enough to hear songs from their upcoming debut LP on Dear Skull Records. Many bands have tried to mix together influences from punk rock and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but no group has blended those scenes together as successfully, nor with songs as catchy as the ones Icon Gallery creates. Expensive Shit, a new project from Paul Quattrone (drummer of the Modey Lemon and !!! ) and Eric Yeschke (of Raw Blow and Dreadnots) were in the middle of the bill. Their gripping instrumentals, a combination of sampling and live drumming, bridged the rousing sounds of Icon Gallery and the Blues Explosion.

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