So, five gorillas walk into a bar... But seriously folks, five guys from Brooklyn walk into a joint in Anytown, USA, and promptly take the stage. They look like a cross-section between The Bowery Boys and escapees from The Reformatory for Wayward Boys circa 1959. It's still not clear if these cats are the band, or if they beat up the band and took their instruments. If it weren't for their impressive musicianship, the jury would still be out. Ladies and gentlemen, hold onto your heads. This is, as the members put it, "God's favorite band," The Gas House Gorillas.
God? These guys aren't conceited; they're convinced. Bassist Crusher Carmean clears up any confusion: "God didn't have a favorite band until we came along," he says. "We are the alpha and omega"
The Gorillas burst on to the scene in 2003 with vocalist/guitarist Rick Fink and members of the stellar New York jump-blues outfit, the aptly named Blues Jumpers. Whereas the Blues Jumpers were traditional and amazingly period correct, the Gorillas' immediate mission was to ruffle feathers, twist panties, and get in faces. The band tweaked the music with speed, volume, and onstage mayhem. They put some punk-rock gas in the jump-blues punch.
"It's as if a group of punk-rock kids were listening to The Treniers," says drummer Eddie Everett. "And Louis Jordan and Fats Waller and Cab Calloway, and Wynonie Harris. So our sound may be rootsy, but we deliver like The Ramones."
But purists may freak out at these iconoclasts' shenanigans. Tough.
"We are not interested in sounding vintage," Everett says. "We may give a song a Reverend Horton Heat or Led Zeppelin or Beatles treatment. Everything has been done. There are a lot of musical references to choose from. It's all how you make it your own."
The Gas House Gorillas make the stage their own, too. Whether it's with the jungle savagery of Everett's drums, the rusty wail of Monsta Jim Davis' saxophone, Fink's bluesy howls and pleas, the genre-bending kerrang from Snake Osborn's guitar, or Carmean, who climbs all over his bass like well, a gorilla, the Gashouse Gorillas own the stage everywhere the band goes.
So even if these guys did steal the instruments from the actual band, let them hang on to them. They sound great. Besides, have you ever tried to take something away from a gorilla?
The Gas House Gorillas perform Friday, June 28, 7:45 p.m. & 9:45 p.m. at Abilene Roots & Americana Stage (153 Liberty Pole Way). Tickets cost $20-$25, or you can use your Club Pass.
City Newspaper's guide to Rochester's biggest music festival. The 2016 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival runs Friday, June 24, through Saturday, July 2. For more reviews, blogs, photos, and the latest news, check our website every day of the festival.
The 2016 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival runs Friday, June 24, through Saturday, July 2, and City Newspaper will be out every night of the festival, covering multiple shows.