Des Roar @ Webster Hall

NEW YORK, NY—After spending the early part of my evening watching Duke beat Butler in the annual college basketball tournament at Hop Devil Grille, I headed three blocks north to Webster Hall to catch a midnight showcase by one of New York’s finest underground rock bands now making the circuit. Initially impressed by Des Roar at a Santos Party House set a year ago, I couldn’t wait to see these down ‘n dirty hard rockers again. And though they only played the small right side downstairs room as opposed to the bi-level main stage, plenty of faithful fans, mostly female, filled out this smaller, cozier space.

Offstage, Des Roar seem to be a few laid-back dudes (and dudette), but their reckless abandon comes to the fore during each exhilarating cave-stomping live show. The fierce foursome move from swamp rock dollop to Stooges-like garage romp with the greatest of ease. And they proved it once more at this downtown New York venue in support of their self-released debut, Mad Things.

The scorching dual guitar rampage of front man Ben Wolcott and Alan O’Keefe blared through the rumbled bass groove of Ryan Spoto. And femme drummer, Lyla Vander, who sang like Debbie Harry on a ‘60s girl group bender, was no slouch either, banging away on her kit with full-throttled intensity.

Center-staged scruffy-bearded de facto leader, Wolcott, sported a post-hippie look, wearing tight blue jeans and sporting mid-length hair. To his right, unshaven crop-haired black-suited six-stringer, O’Keefe, proved to be slightly animated. On the opposite side, Wolcott’s California-based pal, Spoto, wore a red cut-up tee and gold cross while maintaining a sullenly playful demeanor.

This time around, a ramshackle instrumental number opened their lively 50-minute show, conveniently followed by a savage guitar-wailing blues-rocker soulful underground icon Barrence Whitfield would be proud of. A nifty “Roll Over Beethoven” guitar-bass figure underscored another rambunctious number.

About halfway through, Des Roar took a 20-second breather to share some banter and request whiskey drinks. Then, they came “roaring” back with a roughed-up Western-styled rocker and the revved up “Fire In The Sky,” the latter based on Led Zeppelin’s chilling “Kashmir” riff. For an encore, they blurred another Zeppelin riff into a frenzied Bowie-esque “Jean Genie” pounce on witchy threnody, “Lady’s Man.”

Des Roar are real deal blue-collar garage rockin’ phantoms. And you could bet they’ll kick your ass and rock your soul.