A Band Grows Up on the Lower East Side

January 7th, 2010

Des Roar – Mercury Lounge – January 6, 2010

Des Roar - Mercury Lounge - January 6, 2009
New York City rockers Des Roar deserve credit for the number of things that sets them apart from every other black-clad retro indie-rock band bred on the Lower East Side: One being their chick drummer and back-up vocalist, Lyla Vander. Two is their Irish guitarist, Alan O’Keeffe. And perhaps most important, three, the amount of growth from their previous album and all the other times I’d seen them.

Des Roar have grown into their own with their more recent material, finding a greater sense of melody and better hooks than their earlier tunes ever displayed. They played an almost even split of old and new songs to a mostly full Mercury Lounge last night. They’ve done a wonderful job of reaching beyond the confines of the often-generic LES rock and roll sound, particularly with the newer material, which had concertgoers dancing. But it was older songs like “Ted Bundy Was a Lady’s Man” that earned hoots and hollers from the fans. (“Must be from Florida,” responded singer-guitarist Ben Wolcott.)

The main support on the five-band bill, Dead Sparrows, another New York City-based band, played a pretty raucous set, drawing the largest crowd of the evening. They seemingly come from the same set of influences as Des Roar, but where Des Roar excels in melodies, Dead Sparrows shine because of singer Joey Sparrow’s haunting howl. —Kirsten Housel

Photos courtesy of Kirsten Housel