My July was somewhat hollow. Sure, we saw At Sea and, yeah, No Suck Fest was good. But all work and no Narwhal made Kendle a dull boy. So, we happily skipped down to Anna’s on a Friday to enjoy their post-vacation-break show alongside Siblings, Campfire, and Alaskan band Young Fangs. Travis of Coral Stabz fame was also on hand to spin vinyl.
The Siblings are a fun four-man punk band described to me multiple times as, “the best band in Honolulu.” Strong praise, to be sure, though I had managed to accidentally avoid them until this show. For that I am quite sad. Now, I will be the first to admit I know little about punk, but I still say these guys rocked. Their singer, Joey Green, freely moved from stage to floor, quickly inciting the crowd into a mosh, and threw the microphone around like a three pound yo-yo. Joe Gonzales, the drummer who would go on to pull double duty with Campfire, was a strange contrast. His very calmly controlled and technical style was both impressive and enjoyable as a drummer and listener while Jacoby Young (bass) and Thomas Manalo (guitar) progressively bridged the excitability gap between their band mates, both in performance and melody. The overall impression was that of pockets of control within a torrent of chaotic sound and motion. And I loved it. Best to get up front for this one, though you might get some bruises (I did).
Narwhal was up next and they rocked, as usual. The HEP favorite mixed up their usual “Lies” to “Tell Me” setlist and instead played mostly new songs. The crowd was ranbunctious, guitar strings were broken, and Erica was dressed surprisingly fancy. It was certainly good to have these guys back to get me sweaty and out of breath. Yes, they took me there…
During the second day of No Suck Fest, L and I had to miss Campfire. Luckily, they were also in the lineup. The three piece seemed to basically be the punk side of honky-tonk alt band Raised By Wolves, wielding electric instruments rather than a warm violin. Nick Dagnar (read: Danger) was still at the helm, but Cody Zeek was on bass guitar and providing additional vocals. Cody did take lead on nearly half the songs, replacing Nick’s gravelly, even singing with a much higher tempo sort-of-howl-but-still-deep style that reminded me of certain 90’s era punk bands. In any case, hearing them rock from drinking song to painful murder stories cast an incredibly different light on songs I’d come to love from Wolves and I will gladly see them again.
The Young Fangs are a three-man-band from Alaska. The two front men, brothers Joshua and Brennan Labuda, were clad in the indie-essentials: plaid button up, beanie, slippers (or flip-flops for those of us not from the islands), and tight-but-no-too-tight jeans. Their drummer, the blond, long locked Joel Fagre, had the “metal goes soft” look that seems to be getting very popular these days. Luckily, their music was far more original than their attire.
The Young Fangs are essentially two bands. The Brothers Labuda split guitar, bass, and singing duties evenly between them. With one at the helm, the music was somewhere between the disjointed sound of Modest Mouse and the woodsy twang of Band of Horses. Mellow, soft sung groove sessions abound, only to break into strong, steady guitar and high pitched singing during choruses. All of this rife with a haunting, joyful sorrow that was low on angst and high in mood.
Once the band’s Chinese Fire Drill was complete, however, the sound became heavier and floated much closer to a Kings of Leon style with distortion laden, deep singing, slower, smoother beats, and downright sexy guitar. This wasn’t indie to ride bikes to; this was baby-making music. Normally, this sort of dramatic shift in sound would seem disruptive, but Young Fangs handled it with grace, using their natural charisma to fill in the intermediate time with banter, jokes, and information about some charitable organizations they were working with.
Even with a directed sing-along (“The Way it Goes”), normally an obnoxious diversion, they brought a smile to our faces and singing from our lips. “All of My Life,” a very Killers-esque romp, also stood out for it’s lyrical timing and soaring chorus that had the whole crowd bouncing. “Saves the Day” was another instant favorite with its smooth, subtle singing that quickly broke into a nearly howled crescendo. Honestly, though, every song could be a favorite and that was what impressed me most about Young Fangs: they have more flexibility than almost any indie band I’ve ever seen before. I feel this band is destined for (and rightfully deserves) a wider popularity outside the strange, dislocated states of Alaska and Hawaii.
Finally, I just wanted to also highlight Joel, their drummer. While, at first, I thought the aforementioned sort of metal look was just a style, I’m pretty certain that is the real story. His drumming was busy and heavy on the cymbals and bass like much hardcore, but not overbearing as might be expected in this genre. Of course, it doesn’t hurt the story that, once shirtless, we could see he was ripped and looked even more Viking-like. Whatever his background, I enjoyed his strong, yet fairly relaxed, style that added even more character to a band that is already quite multifaceted.
Young Fangs also gave away thirty copies of their album Thanks for Caring which I’ve been rocking out to for the past few weeks. Much of the album, including the three songs above, can be downloaded at their ReverbNation site. They’ve also released music on iTunes, if that is your preferred music medium, so check them out. There are also more bad pictures on our Flickr, so go ahead and check those out, too.