Download: "I Wanna Deadbeat You" from the official Night Marchers Myspace page.
So… I've got this part-time job where, in three years, I haven't worked one second of overtime. Until last night. This meant having to scramble to get to Alex's Bar in time to see opening act Los Mysteriosos, which just so happens to be bar owner Alex Hernandez's group. I don't make a habit of getting to shows earlier enough to catch the first band, but I swear Los Mysteriosos have something going for them. They take all the elements of Mexican Southern California and write these songs that create an ethereal vibe. But I missed them and I wish I didn't.
I got to the venue as middle band Colour Revolt was on stage. Five dudes from Mississippi playing riff-heavy rock. Pretty cool. Better if I was stoned. But what isn't?
Finally, the Night Marchers hit and that voice inside my head that tells me I am officially old because modern music don't do it for me was silenced for the better part of an hour.
Singer/guitarist John "Speedo" Reis, guitarist Gar Wood, bassist Tommy Kitsos and drummer Jason Kourkounis played most of the songs from their 13-track debut, "See You in Magic," which, if you failed to read my review in May, is pretty damn good. Imagine everything you like about '50s rock 'n' roll, '60s garage and late '70s punk and mix it together. That's what the Night Marchers sound like. Also included were two unreleased songs; a heavy blues riff that left me wondering why it isn't on "Magic" and "Scene Report," which is another gem available from the group's Myspace page (pardon my ignorance record geeks, but I'm don't know if a song on a Myspace page is technically released or unreleased. I am the oldest 28-year-old person alive).
The set opened with the wah-bass of Kitsos for "Bad Bloods," a head-bopping song that makes my wheelchair-bound grandma get freaky. Next was the one-two punch of "Closed for Inventory" and "In Dead Sleep (I Snore ZZZZ)" before the devoted crowd made up of Tuesday night drunks, greased-up rockers, dudes with beards and really hot girls with tattoos (guys: If you are single and run pomade through your hair, go see the Night Marchers) first heard the spoken word from Reis. People in Internet-land want bold statements and here's mine: Reis is the best frontman alive. He has been since the mid-90s and isn't slowing down. He asked the crowd to applaud to "fan the flames" coming from the band's performance and thanked the audience for clapping when he said the noise was "fortifying my already over-inflated ego."
You know that thing, that little spark that separates the Kelly Clarksons from the whoever was runner-up that year? Reis has it and it's like a goddamn airborne disease when he's on stage. Kitsos, Wood and Kourkounis could take bets before the show to see if one of them could remain immobile for an entire set and whoever said yes would lose because they bop, spazz out and groove right along with Reis' passionate zeal. Seriously, Reis' best attribute could be picking band members to compliment his sounds.
Something happened about halfway through the set. Reis launched into "I Wanna Deadbeat You" and the pig-tailed drummer acted like he'd injected Colombian coffee into his veins. He beat the hell out of his drums and the entire band seemed to use this moment as a springboard, so much so that someone hit a few wrong notes and it didn't seem to matter. The remainder of the set was a sprint to the finish that left me out of breath and I wasn't even playing.
It's my job to stay neutral. Report the facts, man. I tried to look for things to critique because nothing's perfect. Except, maybe it is. The Night Marchers ruled. And I'm running out of ways to say it.
Personal Bias: I'm gay for John Reis.
Random detail: Reis wore a snazzy light blue shirt that turned dark blue by the time the set was over.
By the way: Did I mention I'm gay for John Reis?