I’m not going to lie, the words “featuring members of Mastodon….” alone will get me to come out for a show, but the buzz in The Jinx Friday night coupled with conversations with some friends who had seen the bands before gave me the feeling that it might be a special night. The feeling wasn’t wrong.
A.M. Rodriquez opened with his signature countrified blues, and then I was blown away by James Leg‘s dirty, raw, whiskey-soaked, blues/soul/roots punk. Formerly of Black Diamond Heavies and The Immortal Lee County Killers, Leg’s gravelly voice and insane abilities on bass keys and Fender Rhodes were mesmerizing. It’s not easy to make keys “heavy” and the man behind the Rhodes made it look effortless. I won’t miss him again locally.
Leg’s set left a pretty strong possibility for a headlining letdown, but, boy, was I mistaken. West End Motel is not easy to define…rock’n’roll certainly applies, but so do playful, country, charismatic, soulful, anthemic, catchy, and just about anything else that can make a bar band flat out fun. With the caliber of the musicians on stage, though, it never devolved into sloppy, and the set often impressed musically. There were singalongs to several of their originals, a Cheech and Chong cover (seriously) and a cover of The Misfits’ “Last Caress” that…well, you should have been there. Apparently a lot of things have to align for all the members of the band to be able to play together, and I can honestly say I felt lucky to have seen them. One of my favorite sets of the year.