The Black Hollies Rock

September 7th, 2009

The Black Hollies – Mercury Lounge – September 5, 2009

1070367092_lI stepped into Mercury Lounge on Saturday night and I felt like I had stepped into a diorama in a rock and roll museum. The band was the Black Hollies. The sound was rock and roll. And the year was 1967. But these were not taxidermist representations. No, this was the real thing: loud, fuzzy guitar, bopping bass, whirling organ and drums that were pure kinetic energy. All it took was five minutes and I was fairly blown away. It was like seeing the Beatles, the Who, the Doors, Steppenwolf in their club-rattling prime all in the same single set. Derivative? Maybe, but isn’t everyone? Loud and psychedelic, the quartet didn’t slow down for a moment. They rarely paused between songs, instead stretching out in jams and extended drum segues that didn’t give you a chance to applaud and thank them for their brain massage.

I’m quite sure the drummer never stopped playing at all. Even when he took a well-deserved slug from his water bottle, his foot kept at the bass drum and his free hand slapped involuntarily at the high hat. That drummer was a crazy distillation of the best parts of Keith Moon, Ringo Starr and John Bonham. Hyperbole? Yes…but not by much. It was barely 8:45 on the Saturday night of Labor Day weekend and I already had my fill of ear-shredding rock and roll for the rest of autumn. I walked out of the club asking myself just one thing: How did it take me so long to check out the Black Hollies? —A. Stein