Flip for Fiery Infernals of Death at Casey’s
By Kristina Meccia
Saturday nights, Casey’s in Whitefish is usually known for its packed dance floor and DJ mixed top 40 crowd favorites. This past Saturday, however, the venue offered something different; 3 bands bringing an edgier, decidedly more “rock” flavor to the popular local hot spot. Kenny, guitarist for the night’s second band Thee Infernals, announced on stage, “If anybody asks what our style is, we are new wave, hillbilly rock & roll!” I wasn’t sure how this would sit with the Abercrombie crowd, but I was delighted to see all three acts welcomed with open arms &, more importantly on a Saturday night, people rockin’ out on the dance floor!
First up were The Flip Wilsons, back in Whitefish after their NYE performance at the Craggy Range. After a little rearranging, the band is now made up of John (lead vocals/guitar), Aaron (drums), & Lee (bass). This 3 piece ensemble from C-Falls brings a huge amount of talent to the stage with a lively compilation of serious dance grooves and funky melodies. John made his strings sing & left nothing to be desired as the group flowed from a fun, funky rift to a full, soulful heart cry on their second song, “The Sun” (my personal fave). “Baby Blues” carries a harder rock rhythm, yet maintains that consistent, familiar repetition that crowds love. There was even a transient, almost electronica interlude…before crashing drums rolled the rock back in. I am greatly impressed by these guys’ ability to transition from hardcore rock ballads to soulful melodies in a matter of a few bars. As the night progressed, the true Flip Wilson’s fans took to the dance floor, mouthing the words to their songs & groovin’ out! I had to put a pause in my groove step on more than one occasion to write down a few particulars (-:
Next up…Thee Infernals! Give it up for a female lead vocalist in the Valley who can belt it out with the best of them, if not better than most of them! Channeling a retro style & vocal sound, Ariel Lockwood even sings with a vintage microphone…how cool is that? An upright bass, plucked with amazing skill by Matt Lawlor, adds to the group’s retro vibe, while talented veteran electric guitarists Kenny Stiffler & Matt Boettcher (aka Brunskie), and amazingly versatile & energetic drummer Doug “The Ripper” McMallum add a harder edge modern quality that brings the sound full circle. While the group does write and perform a couple of their own original songs (and what a treat it is when they do) they often perform covers of popular crowd favorites, such as “Tainted Love,” & “Milky Way Tonight.” Their diverse talents within the group give them a lot of room to play with sound at their shows, so depending on the venue they can throw some extra funk or punk on a particular song to jazz up the crowd- which was done with “Blue Monday” at this show…tons of reverb on the vocals and instrumentals. It sounded amazing- and perfect for Casey’s! The vibe is ever changing with these guys, & before long people were jumping around to “Strychnine,” during which Ariel is able to channel the stone cold rocker vibe with as much bravado as any male- and arguably, much more class. The crowd was chanting “One more song!” before the group even stared “Ballroom Dance,” their usual high energy show closer.
The final act of the evening was Death Wagon, bringing to the stage the most hardcore rock of the night (and to the dance floor-can you say mosh-pit meets Extreme Ring-Around-The Rosie?) In their own words, they are “A 3 piece, no frills, stripped down dirty dose of real rock-n-muthafuckin’-roll.” Tired of the no effort required music they felt like the local venues were delivering to the scene, these guys (Matt Lawlor on drums, Elliott Abbott on Bass, & Jason Revis on Lead Guitar/Vocals) assembled and took on the life that is known today as Death Wagon. Offering a versatile array of sounds & performance styles, these guys also channel the rockabilly vibe, tweaking their performance to achieve optimum crown titillation while staying true to their ‘rock it hard’ mentality. They vacillated between a fun, funky swing dance style that totally made me want to make some poor, unsuspecting, young lad put down his bruskie & swing me around the floor to stomping, hard drums, vocals that bordered on angry, & I heard a rumor there was blood on the dance floor by the end of their set…just saying, I heard. In a matter of chords it was like all the angry teenagers in Whitefish had snuck out of their parents’ houses & into Casey’s back stairwell- it was awesome! After the air of anger subsided, I realized there was quite a funky groove going on…in fact it was strip tease kinda music! (I won’t lie- It’s totally fun to dance to that kind of music-ladies?) I was shocked and impressed, heehee…The popular crowd pleaser “Should I Stay or Should I go?” was my cue to exit for the evening…but what a perfect collection of performers to guarantee a rad night of rock. (Check out Death Wagon’s Reverbnation page to see a video of “Velvet Crush” from this show).