Lucero – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 18, 2009

April 20th, 2009

(Photo: Wes Frazer)

After seeing so many bands in skinny ties or skinny jeans, it was a relief to see a group of dudes from Memphis with tattoos, beards, hats and T-shirts ripping it up onstage at Music Hall of Williamsburg just ’cause it was Saturday night. Lucero’s sound is a mash-up of a rootsy country twang, dueling rock guitars and straight-up punk, kind of like Southern rock on three-quarters speed. (To be clear: not at three-quarters speed, but on three-quarters speed.)

The audience was loud and rowdy from the beginning. Whether it was enthusiastically singing along, crowd surfing (“That doesn’t look comfortable,” remarked Ben Nichols, guitarist and lead singer), hooting and hollering, fist bumping, fist pumping, man hugging or beer tossing (and not always empties), the audience was a force itself. Lucero, fortunately, was also a force. With two guitars (including a Gibson Flying V!), a pedal steel, a bass, drums and keys, the band easily filled the room with their big sound, often jamming together rather than taking extended solos. Occasionally, like on Nichols’ solo material he’d “accidentally released,” the band employed a sparer—though no less lively—sound with just three musicians onstage.

Nichols, the ever-chatty frontman, should star in his very own reality show. He has an endearing stage presence, especially while drinking straight from a bottle of Jameson (“God, that tastes good!”) and while continually thanking the crowd for indulging him in songs from his own album. After one of those songs, he even added: “I was almost too drunk to sing that one.” And by the end of the toe-tapping, hip-shaking, head-nodding show, it was hard for everyone else to not feel too drunk, too. —R. Zizmor