Show Review: The Bobby Lees at Mercury Lounge in New York, NY

The Bobby Lees prepared the stage on April 7, excitement filled the the air of New York City's sold out Mercury Lounge. The band released Bellevue last October, and it is a front to back album of raucous excellence.

My own anticipation had been mounting for months prior to this show. With cords strewn about the stage getting plugged in, The Bobby Lees drummer Macky Bowman took off his shirt and pants to prepare for his rapid workout behind the kit. Perhaps it’s a tactic for less laundry when on the road, or to avoid overheating with the layered beats he would be serving out. Whatever the rationale, the action foreshadowed something memorable was beginning on stage.

Once Sam Quartin strummed her guitar, the sold-out venue pressed forward, chomping at the bit for live music. The entire set, fans were restless and beyond, looking forward to experiencing The Bobby Lees live. Quartin’s sarcastic tone pushed back with the sordid tales of “Hollywood Junkyard.” The lyrics heed the warning, “So come and find me in the Hollywood Junkyard, I’m gonna be a star. Come and find me with my eyes like diamonds. They say I’m gonna go far.”

The immediacy and loose dynamics of these songs remind me of an Italian Greyhound running maniacally from beat to beat. All the while, these sporadic movements catch a primal sense of joy. The title track of their new album is a precise example, and it felt just as it sounds live: chaotic. Quartin screams abruptly to begin the track, and the rhythms follow in a gallop. Not even a minute in, the music stops as quickly as it began, only to return with a fast-building vigor and splashing cymbals before signing off.

Bowman stepped out from behind the kit midway through the show to stretch and have some water. The lanky drummer squatted in front of his kick drum and lunged his arms a bit—again, insert the Italian Greyhound reference here. The brief moment of rest seemed to provide the boost needed for his final dash. If drummers can do it, we should all remember to stretch and give our bodies the energy they need. So now this was a show and a self-care session!

Throughout the set, bassist Kendall Wind and guitarist Nick Casa held down chunky chords and dramatic tones. Their instrumentation at times is like a chase with bass lines menacingly sneaking around while guitar sections are frantic and explosive. I’ve been listening to The Bobby Lees for just a few months, but I have been hyping the show heavily for myself. With deep gratitude, they were everything I’d hoped for.

New York City residents Gnarcissists opened the late show. Many may have been at Mercury Lounge for The Bobby Lees, but they all also showed up for this band. It was evident that they garnered a devout following of their own. Vocalist Matthew Orr howled guttural tones that notified all that this would be a feral evening. Their punk ethos maintains that tracks never exceed but a couple of minutes.
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