Exploding Lies/Hacienda/The Greenhornes at the Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH, 4.1.11
The night kicked off (and that is the appropriate way to describe it – this night did not do something meek like “begin” or “start”) with Cleveland’s own Exploding Lies, a blues-inflected rock band with emphasis on low and heavy vibes. So dedicated to that low and heavy end are this band that they sometimes step into the Black Sabbath end of the spectrum with impressive results. While the band seems a little hesitant on stage, there is a lot of potential there, and once they are comfortable enough to own the stage, they will move from good to great.
(And they already have one of the most entertaining-to-watch drummers I’ve seen.)
My second time seeing this south Texas foursome was even better than the first. Perhaps it’s the family dynamic – the band being made up of the brothers Villanueva (Abraham on keys, Rene on bass and Jaime on drums) and cousin Dante Schwebel on guitar – but this band is tight. And it’s that tightness in musicianship that allows them to throw out perfectly loose grooves. So in sync are they that they can go all out, shake-the-rafters rockin’ without ever going off the rails. Mixing up a set list of tracks from their two albums (a third will be recorded in Nashville this summer), kept up a feel-good energy throughout their set until they closed it up with a blow-the-roof-off, if-you-don’t-dance-to-this-you-might-be-dead jam on “Mama’s Cookin'”.
I can’t say enough good things about this band. As a whole and individually, these guys are impressive. They all play far above baseline expectations, always showing audacious skill but never being flashy for flashiness’ sake, always serving the groove. And you can hear their south Texas home in their music. This is the music of warm nights, barefoot girls and barbecue-chomping boys, relaxing with beers and friends. And no band I’ve ever seen live has made me dance more than Hacienda. (And they rival the Gories for best soundcheck around.)
Speaking between songs, Dante said Ohio has become like a second home to the band (no doubt bolstered through their continued relationship with Dan Auerbach), and I, for one, would be happy to claim these guys as our own.
Speaking of Ohio’s own… I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the Greenhornes, coming late to the Cincinnati band’s material and being ambivalent about what I’d heard around the internet.
That ambivalence lasted about two seconds into Friday night’s set. From Jack Lawrence’s lead-in to the final blast of their nearly-11-minute cover of James Brown’s “I’ll Go Crazy”, I was rooting for the home team. The Greenhornes know just where to hit on the body to render maximum devastation, pumping adrenaline-soaked bullets into the audience’s major arteries from beginning to end. By the end, I was hooting and hollering just as loudly as those who were smart enough to get on board with the Greenhornes long before I did.
It’s easy to see why Jack White keeps tapping Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler to fill his rhythm section needs with their strong sense of rock rhythm and groove, adding just enough funk to get you hustling. And while I had seen complaints about singer/guitarist Craig Fox’s stage demeanor in the lead-up to the show from people taken aback by his mostly stock-still posture, Fox didn’t need to bounce around with all the energy he generated from his Gibson SG.
Video by AdamBionic22.
So, call me a convert. The Greenhornes were deadly and made this show a pretty-much-perfect night of rock and roll. And by the end, you could almost hear buttons popping off of shirt fronts as our collective Ohio chest swelled with pride.
Reposted from Now This Sound Is Brave.