Saturday, February 20, 2016

Concert Review: Hudson Falcons, Don't Make Ghosts, Your Mom at The Blue Note

Artists:  Hudson Falcons (Official, Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, ReverbNation), Don't Make Ghosts (Facebook, Twitter), Your Mom (Official, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation)
Venue:  The Blue Note (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Visit OKC)
Date:  February 14, 2016

This past Sunday, Valentines Day 2016, New Jersey's favorite sons the Hudson Falcons made a triumphant return to Oklahoma City playing the Blue Note with local bands Don't Make Ghosts and Your Mom.  This was only my second visit to the Blue Note, the first was also to see the Falcons a good five years ago.  At that time I was not impressed with the venue or its atmosphere; part of it had to do with it being a smoking establishment but beyond that it didn't have a welcoming vibe and most of the people there appeared to be there for the bar and not the show.  This time around things were very different.  Unfortunately the Blue Note is still a smoking establishment but the atmosphere this time around was warm, friendly, and welcoming plus the majority of the folks there seemed to have come for the bands and not the booze.  In the past few years, the Blue Note has become one of the primary venues for punk (and related) rock shows in the OKC area and now I know why.  The Blue Note had been a place I would try to avoid but not anymore.  Whoever is running the place now has improved it ten fold and for that I am thankful.

The show opened with a last minute addition to the bill.  Pink, OK singer-songwriter (and sometimes Falcon member) Danny Trashville (Official, Facebook, Twitter, InstagramBandCamp, CD Baby, ReverbNation) took the stage and knocked out a handful of excellent tunes with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and his signature snarly rasp.  Next up was Your Mom, a band that was new to me but has been around since 2003 (how have I missed them?).  First thing to know about Your Mom is that they are a site to behold with one guitar player sporting an epic mullet, another rocking a great mustache, and the singer's wearing a dress.  The band's sound is that kind of brash, in-your-face '80s style hardcore punk that is most certainly out to make an impression.  As they ripped through their set I kept thinking that this is exactly the kind of band that would have been opening for acts like DRI and the Circle Jerks back in 1986.  At first I honestly didn't know what to think about Your Mom but by the end of their set I found myself thoroughly entertained.  Sure they're not the best band in the world and they aren't breaking the mold with what they do but by God they are having fun doing it and that energy and joy is infectious.  On top of all of that, they are really nice guys, which made me like them even more.

The next act was the one I was anticipating probably more than anything else that night: Don't Make Ghosts.  Made up of 1/2 of my all-time favorite band from the Sooner State, the Roustabouts, Don't Make Ghosts took the stage and immediately owned it.  They didn't own it by their theatrics or flashy stage presence (they had neither), they simply owned it with their incredible music.  Mixing elements of post hardcore, classic rock, and anthematic punk, Don't Make Ghosts' sound is perfect modern punk rock.  In other words, imagine Repeater era Fugazi having a musical child with Hot Water Music, Iron Chic, and Bruce Springsteen; that baby would be Don't Make Ghosts.  The fact that this band is awesome isn't really surprising considering who is in it and what they have done in the past.  And while comparisons to the Roustabouts are fair (especially to the later-day Roustabouts material which was sadly never properly recorded), Don't Make Ghosts is its own, distinct band.  I cannot wait for these guys to hit the studio so I can listen to their stuff over and over and over again.  If it wasn't already glaringly obvious, this band has a lifelong and die-hard fan in yours truly.  

The Hudson Falcons headlined the night, taking the stage and killing it in a way that I haven't seen in a long time.  I've seen the Falcons live more than any other band over the years and they have never disappointed.  No matter who is joining him on the stage, Falcons' singer/guitarist Mark Linskey is a master and always delivers, but sometimes when the mood is right and the chemistry with the rest of the band is tight, they are magical.  This was one such night.  Joined by original Falcon members "Uncle" Chris Lynn on guitar and Jim Meyer on bass and longtime friend and former Tanta Ray member Chas Snyder on drums, the band sounded tighter than I have heard them in years and Linskey seemed more at ease with himself, his songs, and his band.  It's always special when Mark and Uncle Chris get to play music together, but on this night and with this lineup the Hudson Falcons shined proving once again that they are the best rock 'n' roll band on the planet that not enough people have heard.  The set was a great mix of classics and newer songs, highlighting the entirety of the band's diverse and dynamic catalog.  As a longtime fan (I first saw the Falcons play in late '99 or early '00 at the Music Dimensions location on N Western Ave) it was great seeing how the older members of the band took to the newer material.  Lynn played on the band's first two full-lengths while Meyer played on the early EPs and first full-length and since then the band's sound has changed from the Stiff Little Fingers inspired, Chuck Berry on speed style of punk rock to a more straight forward Rolling Stones meets Thin Lizzy meets Bruce Springsteen rock 'n' roll sound.  Granted the foundation for this sound dynamic was laid very early on in the band's career (see the original version of "Latin Knights" from the Rat is Dead EP which both Lynn and Meyer played on) it didn't become prevalent until the band's third album La Famiglia and solidified on last year's brilliant Peace of Mind.  And not only was the band on fire that night, the crowd was hot as well.  Fists were pumping, girls were dancing, and people were singing along with greatest of enthusiasm and the utmost joy because everyone in attendance knew that this night was something special.

A Hudson Falcons' concert is always destined to be a great time.  Besides the great music, it's a time for me to see people and hang out with friends that I don't get to be around all that often.  For 17 years I've been a fan of the Falcons' music and over that time I've been lucky enough to get to know the band and to call Mark, Kerri, and company friends.  As an added bonus I got to see Uncle Chris (who I haven't seen since probably 2002) and hear Nick and Jesse's new band Don't Make Ghosts (plus get to hang out with them and fellow Roustabouts alum Daniel) making this one of the best nights I've had in a long time.  Thank you everyone.


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