Ten Ton Mojo are among the leaders of a local blues rock revival percolating in New York. Opening for Supersuckers at the Gramercy Theatre, Ten Ton Mojo were ready to win new fans with an old sound. The tall and barefoot vocalist Ernie Papp brought his Alabama roots to the forefront, singing soulfully and gracefully while Scott Lano and Gabe Mera traded gritty Southern-tinged guitar solos. Some of the songs leaned toward a heart-pumping head-banging metal, but most of the set was spun on hard and dirty classic rock-sounding swagger. Ten Ton Mojo deserve a salute for swinging the pendulum back to the sound of early FM radio.
Supersuckers/Gramercy Theatre/August 1, 2014
Supersuckers was formed in 1988 by high school friends in Tucson, Arizona. The band then relocated to Seattle, Washington, where the local grunge scene was starting to explode globally. Supersuckers announced a hiatus in 2009, then regrouped in 2011 and in 2014 released a new album. Headlining at the Gramercy Theatre, Supersuckers walked on stage with guitars and a bass that looked like they were made of gold lamé, the shimmering choice fabric of 1950s rock and rollers. The four musicians launched into a high-octane set that reflected the band’s 25 years of pedal-to-the-metal roar. The band’s standard party-all-the-time lyrics and Eddie Spaghetti’s rough, snarling vocals often were buried in the mix, but that hardly mattered; the quartet rocked ferociously, and the sonic barrage of loud guitar-heavy punk-fueled rock and roll anthems never relented. Firmly rooted in straight-ahead rock and roll, the band played at two speeds, fast and faster. Even Motörhead would have a task keeping up with these guys.
Boris/The Bowery Ballroom/August 3, 2014
Although relatively unknown in its native land, the Japanese experimental metal band Boris have a cult following in the United States that has followed the band through about 20 very different sounding conceptual projects since 1996. At The Bowery Ballroom, Boris’ music was about as bizarre as rock can get. Combining tidal waves of heavy metal riffs with shoegaze minimalism, the band triggered an often sparse, loud and hypnotic soundscape. The rhythms were sometimes in odd time signatures, and moved from gentle ambience to the more frequent head-banging industrial-sounding eruptions. The soft vocals were largely insignificant, but the adventurous musical collaborations were arresting, particularly when led by guitarist-vocalist Wata’s slow, grinding guitar lines. Few psychedelic doom metal bands are as daringly uncompromising as Boris in concert.
The Offspring/Terminal 5/August 4, 2014
Guitarist/vocalist Bryan “Dexter” Holland and bassist Greg Kriesel started playing music together in a garage in Cypress, California. School janitor Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman joined as a second guitarist in 1985, allegedly because he was old enough to purchase alcohol for the other members, who were under the legal drinking age. The band initially was called Manic Subsidal, changing to The Offspring in 1986. The Offspring helped revive punk rock in the 1990s and brought this newly-polished adaption into the pop mainstream, selling over 40 million records worldwide and becoming one of the best-selling punk rock bands of all time. The Offspring added drummer Pete Parada in 2007. Celebrating 30 years as a band and the 20th anniversary of the multi-platinum Smash album at Terminal 5, The Offspring performed the entire Smash album, then played later singles and fan favorites, including “All I Want,” “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” and “Why Don’t You Get A Job?” The Offspring’s songs were frequently about personal relationships or sarcastic commentaries on the degradation of politics and society, often chorused with “whoas,” “heys” or “yeahs.” Although The Offspring have been working on new material, tonight’s set was all about the past. It was fast, clean and slick, enjoyable for the masses, and yet very much unlike what angry, raw punk music was originally designed to be.
The Hatters/Bowery Ballroom/August 6, 2014
The Mad Hatters jam band was born in 1988 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Later renamed The Hatters, the sextet grew a following in New York’s jam band scene, recorded three albums, and then toured the country until the band split in 1996. Thanks to fan encouragement on social media, The Hatters reunited at the Bowery Ballroom to perform live for the first time in 18 years. On stage, The Hatters blended energetic funk, bluesy Southern rock and extended Allman Brothers Band–like guitar and keyboard jamming like it was, well, 1996. Adam “Tree Adams” Hirsh sang well, mostly on the bluesy side, but with a joking smile on “Potato Head Boyfriend.” The band maintained a balance of sweet melodies and thick but gentle grooves, one element never getting in the way of the other as they shared the forefront. Interestingly, as the spotlight flowed from guitar solo to keyboard work, a good part of the audience shifted eye focus and kept the hips dancing to the feel-good music. At the end of the two-hour set, the band members soaked in the applause and thanked the fans, but never hinted as to whether or not The Hatters would ever play again.