I was shocked when I saw the announcement that The Koffin Kats would be playing at Lee’s Liquor Lounge. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Lee’s. It’s a hole in the wall type of place with free parking, cheap drinks, and super nice staff but it wasn’t where I thought I’d catch The Koffin Kats on tour. As I walked into the somewhat unfamiliar bar, I was shocked to see the sheer amount of people that had come out to support these touring bands. I’ve been to Lee’s for local metal shows and am typically only one of a handful of people that make it out but Friday night there were over a hundred people in this little dive which seemed to breathe a sense of life into Lee’s that I had yet to experience. I loved it and, before the bands even started, I knew I was going to have a good night.
Against The Grain from Detroit kicked off the night with their unique blend of old fashioned rock n roll, punk, doom, thrash and everything in between. Although they didn’t quite fit the rockabilly sound that the other two acts had, they fit the bill perfectly and were the perfect start to the night. The four piece effortlessly commanded the crowd to attention with their ear-catching sound and energetic performance. Although they weren’t running all over the small stage, there was still this sense of electricity that radiated off the stage as they played through their opening set. After reading a bit more into Against the Grain this morning, it’s clear that these guys are doing the grind that is a touring band. With multiple tours under their belts, it’s clear that they aren’t going anywhere and if every show they play is like the one they played last night, they will soon be a household name throughout the scene.
Following Against The Grain was The Goddamn Gallows– a band that I have been wanting to see live for some time now. With a sort of gypsy punk vibe about them, The Goddamn Gallows blasted onto the stage and when their set was said and done I was left wanting so much more. Their music was upbeat and fun to the point where it made you want to dance a jig (which some people in the packed audience did). The connection between band members was obvious what with their antics on stage that often had the band members playing out the lyrics. Their sound was down and dirty with clear rockabilly and punk influences but also a country twang thrown in there next to a straight up street punk vibe. Much like Against The Grain, the uniqueness of The Goddamn Gallows’ music was more than enough to intrigue me but their fun and energetic live show was the icing on the cake.
Towards the end of the set they explained the importance of Lee’s Liquor lounge to them. It turns out that Jayke Orvis (mandolin, banjo, guitar, singer) played a show at Lee’s where his old band was opening for The Goddamn Gallows. Well, long story short, Jayke was kicked out of that band and quickly offered a spot by The Goddamn Gallows. It was super cool to hear a story like this about a bar that I don’t frequent as much as I should. It also says a lot about how quickly your life can change if the right opportunity comes up and you have the guts to take it. Jayke went on to explain that he had actually been 86’d from Lee’s on multiple occasions which got a nice roar of laughter from the crowd because, let’s be honest, we’ve all been there. Thankfully, the owners were either gone for the night or didn’t care and The Goddamn Gallows finished off their set with a sense of fury and fun.
Headlining the Friday night show was The Koffin Kats from Michigan. I had seen these guys before but it has been years so I was definitely excited when I saw Vic Victor’s signature sparkly bass being pulled up onto the stage. The Koffin Kats have been around for years and their signature sound has become a staple in my playlist since the first time I heard them. Vic’s voice has a very operatic tone about it and, although it shouldn’t fit with the punk/ psychobilly sound of the rest of the band, it fits perfectly and creates a sound that is so clearly The Koffin Kats that it can’t even be mimicked by others.
Beyond their distinctive sound is their super fun show. Vic Victor uses his upright bass as more than an instrument. Throughout their set the bass also acted as a prop. I watched in amazement as he climbed the bass and lifted it up in the air like it was just a guitar. Even with the excitement of the movement on stage and the antics, Vic never missed a beat and when it was time for him to sing he was always right back at the microphone. Now, my brother played upright bass all throughout high school and I can tell you that they are not light instruments. The way Vic would just fling the instrument into the air and hold it over his head was truly impressive. Even if you took away the excitement of Vic’s routine with his bass, you would still be left with a super impressive show.
The three members of The Koffin Kats blasted through their set of what had to be nearly (if not more than) twenty songs. Each song had a distinctive sound to it while clearly being songs from The Koffin Kats. The infectious beats blaring through the speakers had the entire audience dancing and moving along to the beat. Much like the other two sets of the night, when it was all said and done, I was left wanting to much more. Although my exhaustion had hit a whole new level what with this current grind of shows, I could have stayed out all night watching any of these bands continue to play.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a nationally touring show at Lee’s Liquor Lounge but it was absolutely perfect. Not only did I get to see some bands that I had been wanting to see, I also got to see Lee’s in a new light and I honestly hope they keep booking shows like this.