MANHATTAN, NY—Local H started as a trio of high school buddies in 1990 in Zion, Illinois, but after the bassist quit in 1993, the remaining members carried on as a guitar and drums duo. Vocalist/guitarist Scott Lucas had a high school friend modify his guitar with an added bass pick-up and second output so he could double up guitar and bass sounds simultaneously. Local H began recording in 1994, and “Bound For The Floor” gained a wide audience in 1996. The band’s most recent album is 2012’s Hallelujah, I’m a Bum, a concept recording on which Lucas wrote about the deeply divided political climate in the modern world. Local H’s current members are Lucas and new drummer Ryan Harding.
The stage at the Mercury Lounge is often quite dark, but tonight for Local H it was very, very dark. At one point Lucas asked for more stage lighting, saying he could not see anything around him, but the lighting increased only by a notch. While the lighting was minimal, the volume seemed to be maximum. The duo loudly tore through 20 career-spanning songs, with barely a moment’s breather between most tracks. The music fell into a neat thick and heavy groove somewhere between hard grunge and energetic punk. Lucas’ hair is long again, and flew in his face as he threw his upper body into guitar chords, riffs and occasional leads. He also toyed with feedback and other deafening distortion effects. Meanwhile, Harding pounded the drums so intensely that his jeans were soaking wet by show’s end.
Local H opened with “Buffalo Trace,” and then “Deep Cut” set an angry, negative tone with a chorus that asked, “What do you do when opinions are everywhere?/What do you do when it’s nothing you want to hear?” The band proceeded to give the long-time fans what they wanted to hear. Early into the set, “Eddie Vedder” and a rare live performance of the punk-flavored “Chicago Fanphair ’93” had people banging their heads to the ripping rhythms. Lucas stopped “Hands On The Bible” long enough to ask the fans how they were doing, then finished the song. He spoke back and forth with audience members a few times, but often with a sarcastic or dismissive attitude. Perhaps that negative mindset was what fueled the hard rocking set.
“Don’t take this for granted/You’ll leave here empty handed/So hateful, so shameless/Won’t let you leave here blameless,” Scott sang of the beginning of the end of a relationship in the slow-building “The One With ‘Kid’.” Lucas roared “California Songs,” attacking the many songs that sing the praises of California. “Fritz’s Corner” was a bit of a sing-along: “One more thing before we go/I’ve stepped over everyone I know/Everyone I know, everyone I know.” Early on, the band performed an unreleased song in which Lucas repeatedly shouted, “I want you dead.” There was little cheer in all those songs. The raucous and rousing set continued, leading to a curious cover of Lorde’s “Team.” Lucas introduced another new composition, “One Of Us,” saying the band had a single coming out, but this was not it.
At the end of about 90 minutes, Lucas finished the final song, the lightning-fast “Heavy Metal Bakesale,” by crowd surfing to the back of the room. He then staffed the merchandise table by the club’s exit. One hopes he was more ingratiating upon meeting his fans.
For more information on Local H, go to localh.com.