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Royal Headache, Sheer Mag, The Channels @ Great Scott - Monday, August 24, 2015

11 September 2015

Royal Headache comes to town on the heels of their second record just hitting the shelves, and it’s frankly amazing how well the front row of the jammed room knows the words to the songs. The band’s focal point is the singer, Shogun, who’s a vet of the Aussie punk rock scene and has been fronting this band since 2008 or so. His hardcore roots show from the kinetic energy on (and off) the stage, but as a singer he’s got some fearsome pipes, hearkening back to a mix of Robert Pollard and Feargal Sharkey, with a tinge of ’60s R&B tossed into the mix.

Though he complained about eating two dinners before the show and feeling stuffed, his wiry frame had no problem moving around all corners of the small stage, dodging his band mates here and there and occasionally jamming the mic into the wide open mouths of the fans who were singing along at the top of their lungs already. And he took unexpected flight as well, launching right over my head into the dense throng of the enthusiastically sweaty crowd before getting passed back on to the stage. This is a band that’s certainly familiar with riling up the crowd. Musically, the quartet threads the line between The Fresh & Onlys and Parquet Courts, merging the pop sensibilities of the former with the brawn and oomph of the latter. Clearly the word is out on this explosive quartet, and I’m looking forward to their next move.

Sheer Mag hails from Philly, and brought a struttin’ and rockin’ set. Unfamiliar with their sound, it was instantly catchy, with vocalist Christina Halladay commanding the stage with her full-throated vocals. I could be way off base here, but I’d bet pretty high stakes that there’s more than just a Jackson 5 compilation in their collective record collections. Lead guitarist Kyle Seely (singled out by Jeff Tweedy in a recent Reddit AMA as someone he enjoys listening to) is an effortless player, wringing whatever riff, lick or nuance he needs at any time. The production of their second of two singles is pretty rough; the live mix was a lot more satisfying.

The Channels kicked off the evening, three brash local youngsters who were probably not even born when the venerated rock club of the same name closed its doors. Featuring members of bands such as Guerilla Toss and Akryoyd, the trio churned out an impressive array of noise rock, with plastic cutlery used as instruments to change tension and intonation on the bridge. Those sonic adventures sounded pretty good, and I look forward to seeing them play a longer set.