Led love still rules. Even after Lenny Kravitz almost single-handedly drove Zep worship into the ground with his descent into suckiness, Led Zeppelin remains a bright beacon to many a young rock band. And so it is with much buzzed about Earl Greyhound, a New York three-piece that definitely pounded away with the hammer of the gods at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on March 31.
In a show of transcontinental unity, two L.A.-based bands opened. First was Dim Mak recording artists Lion Fever, a group made up of equal numbers of girls and guys, all of them so SoCal good-looking. The band put in a short set of bass-heavy, bouncy rock. Next was the Starlight Desperation. I had initially written the trio off as just another Strokes/Interpol/Jet/Vines hanger-on, but the members exhibited enough energy to make me believe in their potential.
As Starlite Desperation exited the stage, Earl Greyhound drummer Ricc Sheridan started setting up a huge drum kit. With his enormous arms, he must have been the only guy around strong enough to handle those drums. And he continued to handle them once the band started playing. As Sheridan pounded away and worked up a sweat, I wondered if that huge bass drum was filled with explosives about to go off — a la the Who’s infamous performance on the Smothers Brothers’ show. (Alas, there were no actual pyrotechnics.)
Sheridan is just one of three amazing performers in the band. Bassist Kamara Thomas shook her whole body to the spastic joy of the music, the bird’s feather precariously placed in her glorious afro seeming destined to fall out. Guitarist Matt Whyte — whose tall, skinny frame and long hair make him look like he’s straight out of the ’60s — knows his away around a snaky guitar lick.
The band ran through songs from its debut album, Soft Targets (released earlier this year via Some Records), reclaiming the blues-rock sound that so many British bands rode all the way to big bank. Earl Greyhound plays truly American music at its murkiest, muddiest, dirtiest, defiantly-proudest, and best.