Last night Ernie and the Berts had the opportunity to share the stage with D.I.Y. wizards, Locksley. First off, these cats exude cool. They look like they just walked out of the studio at Sun Records, or belonged on the Chess Records roster in the late 50’s. In full confidence of all my manhood, I can say that if I were a woman, and into dudes, my panties would have been thrown onto the stage last night. The best part is that they lack the pretentiousness sometimes associated with such a look.
Locksley is self-described as “doo-wop punk”, but it sure sounds like straight-up super poppy rock n’ roll to me. Part 50’s ballads, part garage rock, part “Beatles just slashed the speakers” kind of vibe…. I even picked up a little Who and maybe even Pinhead Gunpowder.
These dudes explode on stage. After their roadies got them all set up, drummer Sam Bair took nonchalantly to the stage, sat down, and started pounding like a madman. As everyone in the room was spinning their head to see what was going on… the rest of the guys hopped up on stage, picked up their instruments, and joined in with a catchy number. Bass player Jordan Laz called us all to action, Eastwood Airline bass slung to the side; No feet were to be still, no hands were to be left idle.
They actually implored us to go downstairs during the second song, and try to bring up Smiling Moose bar patrons from downstairs. Not even the incredible fans that drove in from Ohio donning homemade letter jackets and poodle skirts emblazoned with Locksley logos went downstairs as we was requested. No one wanted to miss whatever happened next!
Hooky melodies with a beat meant to keep your feet tapping is Locksley’s thing, and they do it well. Their self-titled record comes across as a little softer, more polite, and gentle than the live show… but make no mistakes, these guys are mean on stage.
Guitarist Kai Kennedy was channeling Johnny Cash in all black with his well-worn cream colored Stratocaster wailing crazy poppy licks, and sweating bullets from the get-go. Lead vocalist Jesse Laz let bass player & brother Jordan handle most of the inter-song banter, then would step in to croon and make jangly chord changes with his Epiphone Wilshire… A commanding presence that reminded me of Morris Day in Purple Rain.
These guys have crazy stage presence. Any inter-song banter was backed by soft rocking that ramped up just in time to jump into the next tune. Moves that had to be choreographed but looked like they may have had an organic origin peppered the set. Microphone sharing with killer vocal harmonies was all over the place. Everyone who wasn’t tied to a drum kit was in the audience at one point, dancing, rocking, and singing away. Kai and Jesse locked into this weird grappling maneuver where they played each others’ guitars while spinning around looking like someone trying to get out of a straightjacket.
After the set, handlebar-moustached drummer Sam wouldn’t let me purchase a CD. Instead, he gave me a stack to pass along. We gave some out to those who had attended the show, but I still have 2 unclaimed. Let me know if you’re interested. The 1st 2 to claim the disc in the comments below, it’s all yours.
Erin “Ernie” Payne & Dave “Bert” (or “the other Bert”) Warren went to a Fountains of Wayne show in Philly a while back, and Locksley was the opener. Erin really dug what they were all about, and set out on a personal mission to bring them to the ‘Burgh. I’m glad he did. I had a great time last night, and I know the whole shebang was a big deal to Erin. From what I can tell, all of the guys in Locksley and their friends/crew are all-around nice guys who have a genuine love for the music, the stage-show, and the adventure of being a rock n’ roll band.
Stay tuned to Ernie and the Berts’ Facebook page to see photos of the show!