Temples/Pier 84/August 6, 2014

Singer-guitarist James Edward Bagshaw and bassist Thomas Edward James Walmsley, former bandmates in their native Kettering, England, recorded new music in a home studio in 2012. The duo then enlisted local drummer Samuel Lloyd Toms and keyboard player Adam Smith in order to form Temples. Temples closed the free outdoor River Rocks 2014 summer concert season at Pier 84. The four musicians came on stage wearing hairstyles and wardrobe similar to psychedelic pop stars from the mid-1960s, and the music closely resembled that sound as well. Using special effects on synthesizer and guitar, the band opened with the title-track of the Sun Structures album, with Bagshaw singing light melodies and short lead guitar blasts between verses, building up to a lengthier solo toward the end of the song. And so it went for the rest of the 65-minute set (eight songs from the album plus two non-album B-sides)—retro melodies and guitar sounds at the front of the band’s experimental-prog-noise space jams. Temples did not simply copy a sound, however; Temples successfully introduced imaginative layers of freshness to a vintage sound. Temples’ set was as picturesque as the Hudson River skyline behind the stage.

King’s X/Stage 48/August 8, 20014

Greg X. Volz of the Christian rock band Petra brought together bassist Doug Pinnick of Joliet, Illinois, and drummer Jerry Gaskill of Bridgeton, New Jersey, to help him in a musical project in 1979 in Springfield, Missouri. Pinnick, Gaskill, and local guitarist Ty Tabor, originally of Mississippi, eventually formed King’s X and transitioned from radio-friendly rock to a heavier, progressive rock by King’s X’s first album in 1988. The original lineup has remained together and has released 19 albums. At Stage 48, the hard-rocking power trio tempered hard rock with a taste of progressive rock, metal, funk, soul and British Invasion-styled vocal harmonies. Several of the band’s lyrics were intriguing, spun on positive, spiritual themes or the members’ struggles with faith and self-acceptance. (Tabor and Gaskill are Christian; Pinnick is agnostic and gay.) Pinnick’s strong bass-led grooves drove the songs, and his compelling, bluesy lead vocals energized the melodies, even as Tabor ripped into frequent guitar solos and Gaskill pounded the steady and occasionally odd rhythms. Highlights of the 14-song set included 1989’s “Over My Head,” where toward the end Pinnick sat on a monitor at the edge of the stage and listened to the audience sing along, the set closer “We Were Born To Be Loved,” and the double encore of “Go Tell Somebody” and “Dogman.” It was a strong performance by a first-class rock band.

Randy Jackson/The Bowery Electric/August 10, 2014

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Randy Jackson started playing piano and guitar at age five. In 1973, at age 18, he played locally with bassist Felix Hanemann. They formed Zebra in 1975 with drummer Guy Gelso, and Jackson became the lead vocalist and guitarist for the hard-rocking power trio. Zebra played New Orleans bars for two years, then relocated to Long Island, New York, to a thriving club circuit. Zebra’s self-titled debut album went gold, and its five albums and five videos sold more than two million products. Aside from Zebra, Jackson performs solo, and released Empathy For The Walrus, Music Of The Beatles, on Feb. 4, 2014. As part of a Northeast club tour, Jackson performed a solo acoustic show at The Bowery Electric. Jackson sat on a stool and began by singing and strumming and finger-picking wailing leads on several Zebra songs. Even in this downsized presentation, these songs were still poignant. “Tell Me What You Want” featured the recurring line that echoed the anger, frustration and bitterness of the aftermath of an argument with a lover. Zebra’s rock often was compared to Led Zeppelin, and Jackson’s fine vocals continued to recall Robert Plant. Jackson then blasted several Beatles songs. This was the ultimate downfall of the night; the Beatles songs were done better by the Beatles. Hopefully Jackson will return soon to rocking.

Gasoline Heart/The Studio At Webster Hall/August 13, 2014

As a youth, Louis DeFabrizio watched and admired his grandfather, father and uncles jamming on The Who and Led Zeppelin songs at family parties on Long Island. As a young adult, he relocated to Orlando, Florida, and played bass and guitar in a long series of short-lived bands. He started writing songs at age 25, and formed Gasoline Heart to be their vehicle. The lineup has changed often, but DeFabrizio’s passion for straight-ahead rock and roll has remained constant. Now based out of Brooklyn, DeFabrizio also established a career as a mover with his company, Lou Moves You. At The Studio At Webster Hall, DeFabrizio and Gasoline Heart stayed true to their 4/4 roots. The half-hour set sparked with DeFabrizio’s rousing powerhouse rock anthems, which were pivoted on classic rock arrangements, but overloaded with energy and bombast. DeFabrizio sometimes appeared to be sentimental in his earnest lyrics and soulful singing, but then the cursing and clowning between songs unmasked the Brooklyn in him. Nah, this is a pure and dirty American rock and roll band blasting a big sound and sporting a reckless Sopranos attitude.

Kristopher Roe/The Studio At Webster Hall/August 13

Kristopher Roe began his music career in 1995 by writing and recording demos of original songs on a four-track in his bedroom in Anderson, Indiana. The first lineup of The Ataris was formed quickly thereafter, but when Roe relocated in 1997 to Santa Barbara, California, the band’s lineup began changing rapidly and often. Roe has been the only constant member of the punk rock band. Roe headlined a solo acoustic show at The Studio At Webster Hall on Aug. 13. Clues were evident that this would be a trip back to the 1990s, when The Ataris were most popular. As Roe walked on stage and was setting up for his set, he sang along with the Built To Spill track played by the disc jockey. Roe also wore a My Bloody Valentine t-shirt. Strapping on an acoustic guitar upside down, Roe strummed and sang many of the songs he wrote and recorded with The Ataris. He opened with a stripped-down version of one of The Ataris’ most popular songs, “In This Diary.” He then sang “12/15/10,” a lesser known song that appeared on a later Ataris EP, then returned to the title-track of So Long, Astoria, and then a cover of The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which appeared on The Ataris’ 2012 Live In Los Angeles album. This was how it went, a set mixing familiar and not-as-familiar songs. More importantly, this was a bare-bones presentation, with minimal effects and all vocals in the forefront. It was not as exciting as an electric Ataris set, but it was a new way to appreciate these songs.

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