A narrow demographic of overwhelmingly broad-shouldered, tattooed men at the outer fringe of youth crammed into the Mercury Lounge last night to watch the Night Marchers hammer their guitars as if they were drums. And the actual drummer? The notoriously hard-hitting Jim Kimball still clobbers with conviction, but also swung and boogied with ease. Though the Night Marchers are a supergroup of players from at least eight nineties bands worth remembering, it was clear the crowd was worshipping in the church of the beloved guitar-swinging rock-a-holic bandleader Jon "Speedo" Reis, formally of Rocket From the Crypt, and not his Night Marchers. Some even called out for Rocket songs.
Does SoCal translate to Manhattan anymore? Reis's nasally San Diego surf-punk bark gets intense on the band's record, but thankfully, a significant chunk of touring has left him sounding more mauled than mall. His banter about a discarded Parliament fanned by the Santa Anta winds starting a wildfire landed, but only with those who'd followed the Witch Fire in the New York Times. It was a comfort to everyone else that he looks enough like Jerry Lee Lewis to make one uncomfortable with the notion of leaving him alone with a loved one. What was most striking, though, was how tyrannically tight the entire group sounded, no doubt as a result of wasting their youths in various incarnations of the same punk bar band. As they launched into the Bo Diddley vamp "Branded," it was clear they know their crowd, and themselves, as Reis sang "just 38 and I don't mind dyin'." —Mishka Shubaly