I want start this review by informing you that I will be saying The Blind Shake a lot. What is with a lot of journalists being lazy when repeating nouns of groups that they like to use abbreviations to save nanoseconds of time? Whilst usually useful, it’s detrimental here, as you’d be reading The Blind Shake as TBS or BS. The Blind Shake is neither Taking Back Sunday nor Bull Shit.
Now, having already seen The Blind Shake a couple times in a few different spots worldwide, at different times of day, you forget how factors such as set time, how much daylight there is and how hung over you are can affect a show, if you are a bad band. I have seen them outside of a pizza restaurant at midday, drunk off my ass on my birthday, and doused in sweat in a vacant dojo. Luckily, these are what the industry people call a great band and will always serve 20/25/30/40 minutes of an excellent performance. You know when your fuzz and echo pedal breaks and you sound bad? Doesn’t matter with these guys. Your fancy smoke machine and projector broke? Doesn’t matter with these guys. Your van got broken into and you need a Kickstarter campaign because taking a Joe job for a month to buy your gear somehow affects your creative prowess? Doesn’t matter with these guys, who also had their van broken into and emptied.
Do you see where I’m at now? This group plays gigs and cuts records better than yours, whilst day lighting as a barista, a supply teacher and a bartender. The Blind Shake isn’t BS in any way, shape or form. It’s good loud noise/surf rock played with precision and finesse and the set at The Shacklewell Arms was the same great show by them I’ve already seen and whole-heartedly enjoyed.
Each gig is a workout, no thanks to Jim, Mike and David wearing track jackets while they play. Set openers like “Pollen” have the fast-kicking action of older John Reis (with whom they’ve recorded) records and numbers like “Parachute” make you not the least bit surprised labels like Goner and Castle Face put them out.
Perhaps the best quality of Blind Shake songs is that they won’t shy away from making a killer chorus, whether it’s crowbarred or held by the hand in there, they like to make the bludgeoning of your ears a sound you can at least whistle on your way to the hearing aid fitting that you’ll be needing, should you watch them enough times. “I’m not an Animal” is just about the best example of their expert songwriting in a punk rock context, and to be honest that’s how all the best underground bands eventually came out on top. Groups like Hot Snakes and Fugazi always made sure you can sing along and these guys are only about a click away from being held in the same regard. Hopefully, their ATP appearance at Reis’ request in April will be the cornerstone that turns more people onto them over here, and deservedly so. Nice dudes, positive attitudes and great performances, what the hell else do you need from a band?
By Charlie Wyatt