It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right

July 29th, 2011

The Gay Blades – Mercury Lounge – July 28, 2011

(Photo: Joel Didriksen for

The Gay Blades had the hometown advantage last night. Rumored to be named after the 1981 Zorro film, they had to do little more than walk down the street to take the stage at Mercury Lounge. The benefit for a band living in the neighborhood is that they can focus all of their energy to let loose on a local audience. TGB has a long history of playing unpredictable, frenetic live shows, and the first track on their sophomore album, Savages, “Rock ’n’ Roll (Part 1),” is the perfect squealing, dirty-blues track for lead singer Clark Westfield to drop the hammer and remind the audience what they should expect.

The duo’s self-proclaimed trash-pop sound swings among John Spencer Blues Explosion-like grandiosity, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” classic-country songwriting and the crushing falsetto of Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At the Drive-In. The references aren’t totally clear: Pick a genre and they have some blend of its elements simultaneously working. But like with any great band, the glue keeping the whole experience together is undeniably the frontman’s stage presence and attitude.

The diversity in style on the Gay Blades’ recordings is made cohesive when played live by the band’s unhinged performance and onstage energy, whether restrained in a slower-tempo track or unleashed at high volume. What’s happening onstage is something none of us watching would be able to pull off. Even more remarkably, the band hadn’t been performed in over a year, and you wouldn’t know it thanks to Clark’s ability to lead the crowd from Black Keys distortion to a hushed soul ballad—in the same song. The Gay Blades deftly delivered the array of sound with a sense of humor, just ask drummer Puppy Mills. —Jason Dean