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The Strypes Do Their Part to Keep Rock Alive at Rough Trade NYC

March 28th, 2018

The Strypes – Rough Trade NYC – March 27, 2018

Photos courtesy of Silvia Saponaro | www.saponarophotography.com

During the initial explosion of British rock bands in the early ’60s, it was pretty common for young groups to begin as carbon copies of the influences they were desperately trying to emulate. The first few Stones records, after all, leaned heavily on Chicago-blues covers, and the majority of the Who’s first album was a love letter to Motown. Each of these bands had templates they referenced before they mastered their crafts and created something completely different. The Strypes, out of Cavan, Ireland, started similarly. They experienced early success thanks to their throwback style that owed a huge debt to the early British pub-rock scene that predated the punk explosion of ’77. Bands like Dr. Feelgood, Nick Lowe and Dave EdmundsRockpile, and Graham Parker and the Rumour were all the template for them—and what made it most impressive was that these kids were all in their early teens. And man could they play.

Their newest album, last year’s Spitting Image, finds the Strypes expanding their sound a little bit more with a focus on lyric-heavy pop-conscious songcraft—not unlike their heroes Lowe, Parker and Elvis Costello. And it brought them to Rough Trade NYC last night in Williamsburg. To put it lightly: I was not prepared for what I was about to witness. The band tore into their set by absolutely pulverizing the classic blues standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” They’re such a tightly wound force with drummer Evan Walsh thunderously dismantling his kit with each hit, bassist Peter O’Hanlon constantly pacing and jumping all over the stage, lead guitarist Josh McClorely stoically unleashing one perfect solo after another and lead singer Ross Farrelly—clad in a workman’s jumpsuit and big black sunglasses—commanding the crowd with a calm and cool I’ve-seen-it-all demeanor. The Strypes had it down, an image they could present and the skills and tunes to back it up.

The set flew by as they played material from across their catalog. You could tell each era of the young band’s career was specifically defined, as the pop hooks of new songs like “Behind Closed Doors” jumped out in the middle of their older bluesy rave-ups. The Strypes played for about an hour and a half before coming out for a brief encore that began with an incendiary version of Nick Lowe’s “Heart of the City.” If you are familiar with the Rockpile’s live versions of this song, then you know that I am not saying it lightly that the Strypes did it justice. The final number of the night was their early hit “Blue Collar Jane” before the band bid Brooklyn goodnight and turned off their blazing hot amplifiers. Maybe rock isn’t dead after all? —Pat King | @MrPatKing