ASBURY PARK, NJ — Asbury Park is always a great place to visit with its potent mix of people, food, ocean, vendors and bars. On this evening, the surf was beautiful, the sky was a wash of watercolor and Asbury Lanes was anticipating the return of one of its faves: Scott H. Biram (“the H stands for Fuck You”).
The show openers were reminiscent of Scott’s early days with his own bands—The Percocettes, a punk band, and Snake Sustaine, a metal band—both from the Philadelphia area.
The Percocettes was a quartet fronted by Cole Della-Zucca whose vocals were somewhat akin to Brody Armstrong/The Distillers. Cole’s slinky dance moves spiced up their punky anthems. One song featured Toothless George on upright bass, hoisting it up over his head. Another featured a quick interlude when Cole played guitar and Dustin switched to saxophone. If you like your music punk, then it’s worth a visit to their world. They’ve not redefined, nor refined the genre, but they’ve nailed the whole package and present it with a sly smile.
Snake Sustaine was essentially one big jam, ending with a 10-minute walk on the wild side. Dark and brooding, with wrenching vocals, they felt no need to exude personality onstage, they let the music do the talking. Their set featured a lot of dual-guitar solos, which gave the music a sensation of surging waves that yanked you from your moorings. They had a robust sound, with a definite edge, and an almost impending sense of danger, fueled by pitchers of beer. Any parting words? “Drink up!”
Scott H. Biram hails from Texas, and with that comes the drawl, the amiability, and a love for trucks and ole-time music. With his new CD, Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever, (Bloodshot Records), and his current tour, Scott is sharing all the troubles he’s seen. There was a significant wait while he stacked and wired multiple amplifiers, guitars, pedals, microphones and a stompboard. It was a mighty impressive electronic cocoon with which he surrounded himself, perched on a lone stool in the middle of it all. Sometimes it’s not so easy being a one-man band!
On this evening, the Asbury Lanes (the best place ever to see a show!) was full of folks ready for some juke joint jive. Scott did not disappoint. Culling tunes from his Bloodshot catalog and beyond, he did several new songs, including “Still Drunk Still Crazy Still Blue,” “Ain’t It A Shame,” “Wildside,” and “Sinkin Down.” His raunchy, distorted vocals played nicely with his decidedly unique style of guitar-picking. The voice was scratchy, gritty, weathered, sometimes honey-coated, but always captivating. The strumming was remarkable in its range of style and emotion. Scott has described his music as “old blues with a hard rock and hillbilly edge.” Whatever your characterization, it’s witness to his down-home dynamism that he can coax a crowd into a rollicking frenzy while he sits on his stool, just a-singing, picking and storytelling.
Friend, writer, rabble-rouser, and musician Darren Deicide synopsized Scott’s performance, and noted, “After seeing the raw, unabated power that Scott H. Biram puts out in a show, I now have a new standard for solo artists. He hits like a force of nature, and only the soulless aren’t compelled to move. It’s getting more and more difficult to find a unique voice within the rock ‘n roll milieu. With Scott H. Biram, you have one. It’s Americana. It defies convention. It’ll make you want to hoot, holler, and get down. It’s rock ‘n roll.”