Radio Birdman at the Double Door

Somehow, I’ve missed out on Radio Birdman all these years — heard the name, didn’t know much beyond that. I picked up on some excitement that these Aussie punks were back together and touring, so this show became a must-see. The Radio Birdman tracks I’ve checked out are solid, tuneful punk, and this reunion gig was a top-notch performance. With his long white hair, unrestrained singing and exuberant moves, vocalist Rob Younger was an arresting presence. I heard some longtime fans of the band saying they weren’t disappointed — and that they could hardly believe their luck in finally seeing Radio Birdman.

This was part of the Electric City Rock Festival, the same “festival” that brought the Dirtbombs to the Double Door last year. Like that gig, this one featured too many opening bands, but it was a decent lineup this time. Lust Killers and Easy Action played fairly typical punk, but had good energy. SSM played a hybrid of punk and keyboard rock. I liked it, but I later heard one guy saying, “How can you have a rock band with a bass?” Well… it’s been done, dude.


The BellRays at the Empty Bottle

Soul music and R&B are alive well these days, not because of the usual slickly produced fare you hear on the radio, but because of rawer, back-to-basics acts like Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, the Detroit Cobras and the BellRays. The BellRays put on a lively performance before a small crowd (about 50 or so, not pathetic, but they deserved a bigger audience), with lead singer Lisa Kekaula exhorting everyone to dance and holler. The BellRays play a mix of soul with some hard-rock or garage-rock guitars. I like their new album Have a Little Faith pretty well, but it all sounded better in concert. SEE PHOTOS OF THE BELLRAYS.

The opening acts were Bottles of Wine (who did not leave much of an impression on me… reasonably well-played but not very interesting blues) and SSM. I’m not sure what to make of SSM. The guitar-keyboard-drums trio had a pretty good sound, but the songs didn’t stick with me. SEE PHOTOS OF SSM.