When Three Sound Like More

August 18th, 2009

Band of Skulls – Mercury Lounge – August 16, 2009

Band of SkullsBand of Skulls is a three-piece rock group that sounds like more. Perhaps, there are glibber ways to explain the volume and density coming out of the speakers at Mercury Lounge last night but, in this case, we’ll settle for: Band of Skulls is a three-piece rock group that sounds like more.

In a move that was either arrogant or knowing, the band chose the radio- ready single “I Know What I Am” as the second song of the night. It is one of those upright, wide-open, fist- pumping rock songs. It’s hard to replicate. They would either have the songs to support playing something so big, so early, or they wouldn’t. In this case, they had enough up front to carry the set.

The most striking thing about Band of Skulls is the two singers’ interplay. Though one is female and the other is male, the qualitative conjunction is powerful. In the fourth song of the night, the two came face-to-face, in vaguely seductive magnetism, and for a moment they looked as though they might kiss. I would be lying if I said the crowd wasn’t rooting for this. It ended up being more collaborative than sexual. Something that, I suspect, is exactly why a three-piece rock band can sound this big. They played nine songs and a single encore with playful back-and-forth throughout. This was rock music: loud and certain. It maybe even sounded like more. —Geoff Nelson