Last Night: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Grassfight at Trees

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Grassfight
October 24, 2010

Better than: hanging onto what was left of my hearing.

"Spread your love like a fever." 

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club pretty much summed up their entire two hour and 15-minute-long set with those words. They were good. Great, even. Hell, they were amazing at times. The three members, Robert Levon Been, Peter Hayes, and part time Raveonette Leah Shapiro, played together perfectly. There were no missed notes, no ill-timed snare hits, and no missed cues. The three moved together, well, like a gang.

And just like their name suggests, they proved to be a menacing bunch.

Because, while the songs were so damn good, they were also so damn loud. The gritty distortion of the guitars played by the co-frontmen barked like the exhaust pipe of an old Triumph motorcycle, and it wore down the eardrums like sandpaper, forcing audience members to cover their ears rather frequently.

But Been wore a smirk on his face the entire time, almost as if the hearing damage of the audience was his own private joke. What else would you expect from a so called member of a motorcycle club?

The band came right out of the gates firing on all cylinders with "War Machine," and "Mama Taught Me Better." And though they were mostly lit from behind, Been's silhouette was easily recognizable, even with the light guy's liberal use of the high-powered strobes, thanks to his Jesus and Mary Chain hairstyle.

Though the tone was set early on in the show, BRMC and the audience connected on their fifth song "Beat The Devil's Tattoo," a swampy stomp that had everyone in the place singing along with the song's tribal hook. Next, the band started into a beautiful and powerful version one of their more melodic songs "Bad Blood."

The three members--all dressed in black--were focused and concentrated for the entire set.

But there was a crack in the facade during a brief acoustic set, when Been coyly sang a version of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun." The crowd, fully revved up up by the furious pace and scathing volume of the first part of the set, wasn't quite ready for the acoustic portion of the night. Hayes, however, saved the moment with his Hank Williams-esque drinking song "A Fine Way To Lose."

For any other band, this would have been the perfect moment to say goodnight, but BRMC showed no sign of slowing down. After a blistering version of "6 Barrel Shotgun," they  closed their show with the stadium-worthy "Spread Your Love." At this point, the band left the stage and returned shortly after for a two-song encore.

Shows that last 135 minutes are no joke, and the members of BRMC wore their onstage stamina like a badge. But what came through with more subtlety was their musicianship. They played the set with absolute perfection, despite the poses that they struck throughout the night.

Come to think of it, those were pretty cool, too.

Denton's Grassfight opened the show with an energetic set of noisy post-punk by way of Sonic Youth. The band was tight in spite of having just lost a member, and they seemed fully recharged after a brief hiatus.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I've always liked Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but this is my first time to see them live. I definitely walked away a bigger fan.

Random Note: People didn't seem prepared for such a long set from BRMC. And it was clear at the end of the night that more than a few audience members failed to pace themselves.

By The Way: Newcomer Leah Shapiro is an awesome drummer.

Daniel Hopkins

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.