It's easy to take Local H for granted. After decades of pumping out consistently entertaining hard rock and maintaining a hard-work touring ethic, the Chicago duo often gets overlooked by critics more interested in covering the latest sound than promoting no-bullshit rock. This is a shame, but it's not like the band or its army of devoted fans needs them. Indeed, Local H's ferocious performance last night at The Firebird proved why it's such a successful cult band.
First, the pair's been doing this a while. Guitarist/singer Scott Lucas coaxes growling tones out of his guitar (which also features bass pickups) and he plays with authority. Lucas is also a great singer; both his detached voicing and his vicious snarl project well and have rock attitude to spare. Drummer Brian St. Clair matches his partner's efforts with crushing blows to his kit that perfectly complement the pummeling guitars. All of these elements gelled superbly last night, thanks to a great mix that made each part clear and loud but never deafening.
Of course, this would hardly matter if Local H's songs weren't so good. Lucas boils rock down to its most thrilling aspects with catchy starts and stops ("BMW Man" "Cooler Heads"), dramatic vocals with sing-able melodies ("Hands on the Bible" "Fritz's Corner") and a steamrolling attack ("High-Fivin' MF"). The group effectively drew from its entire career, mixing material from last year's 12 Angry Months with the crowd pleasers and in the process demonstrating a consistency in sound and quality.
The fans ate it up, clapping along when prompted, starting a potent mosh-pit and engaging in a mass sing-along on set closer "High-Fivin' MF." Moments like that and the heartwarming Midwest hatred of the coasts displayed by the crowd during "California Songs" stood out, but there really weren't any discernable flaws during the set. As in its recording career, Local H's show was consistently good.
Kinch played an impressive opening set of piano-driven power-pop. The musicians fed off each other well in songs that featured smart interplay between instrumental parts. Keyboardist/singer Andrew Junker's impassioned vocals helped out his cause and the quartet left the stage to a warm reception.
Local favorites One Lone Car opened the night with a set rooted in the same power-pop vein as Kinch. Oasis's "Supersonic," of which the group did a solid cover, provides a good touchstone for its sound, though One Lone Car has a hint of Midwestern twang not found in Oasis. The group could afford to cut loose more and turn its guitars up, but overall they delivered a solid performance of catchy material. One Lone Car might not be a must-see act now, but they're not terribly far off.
March: BMW man Eddie Vedder Fine and Good Sports Bar Bound for the Floor February: Michelle (Again) Keep your Girlfriend (Not sure what this was, can anyone help?) Hands on the Bible California Songs Cooler Heads July: 24 Hour Breakup Session All-Right (Oh, Yeah) Fritz's Corner High-Fivin' MF
(encore) What would you have me do? Wolf Like Me (TV on the Radio cover)