[Photos By Dylan Kennedy]
You gotta find your legs, your stamina, again. Gotta push through the malaise of staying up past 10:30 p.m. on a weekend. 7 p.m. shows will help.
After a year of essentially no live music—there have been sprinkles of some here and there—live rock ’n’ roll is coming back online.
Virtual concerts were a necessary thing during the Great Pause, and probably a good thing for funding bands who lost all revenue sources, but the digital interface destroys the transference of energy you experience at a live music show. You simply can’t replace the live experience with screens. Same goes for sex.
Walking into Victory North on Saturday, there was a trepidatious buzz about. Pods had formed around high-top tables. A couple masks were donned. Drinks were pricy and plentiful.
Mostly, there were smiles while Savannah native/Chicago resident/Savannah resident again Sophie Brochu and her band Fauvely gently strummed through an iridescent opening tune. The crowd was thin to begin. Typical for a 7 p.m. show in Savannah—an early hour pre-pandemic for a rock show in this city.
Victory North’s addition to Savannah was a game changer in a city where the music scene has largely thrived in bars doubling as live music venues. Victory North was designed as a music venue—and a private wedding space because they have to make money somehow—and that makes it special.
And it is a proper music venue with a proper stage, lights and sound, and an open center cavity where dancing is done hugged on three sides by a patchwork of New Orleans style iron work running the second floor balcony.
The courtyard shows of the last few months at Victory North have been a blast and felt mostly safe pre-vaccine roll out, being heavily masked and outside. But Saturday was a real live inside show days after the CDC said it was cool. Not the venue’s first since March 2020, but a special one indeed.
Fauvely laid out a wonderfully serene welcoming mat for the rest of the well-constructed bill. Delicate indie-rock/shoegaze with an occasional punch was just the right tonic for the mania to follow.
Second gear for the night was most certainly the highlight. When Reverend Bro Diddley and The Hips hit their first chord the crowd grew by 50 people immediately.
Ty Thompson’s centerstage mania was a green light for dancing. It’s ok! You can dance outside your house now. And the entirely too cool for school band he’s put together to form The Hips is as tight as any touring act out there. Well, there are no touring acts right now, but you get what I am saying.
The Good Reverend is chugging on all cylinders semi-post-pandemic. Blasting through with at least five to six brand new tunes on Saturday, they were pure fire.
Thompson’s 60’s rock sensibility, created from a deep love of bands like The Sonics and honed during his days with the ever-missed Hypnotics, pours out the foundation for all the Reverend creates.
Building on Ty’s concrete slab of solid rock, the sunglass faced, sharply dressed school kids bring tightness and fortitude expanding outward in a sunburst of indie-rock and post-punk influences that is deadly infectious. (I should delete that last pun).
And it’s in that blend of newer influences and early rock ’n’ roll where pure magic happens. It’s music that’s a joy to feel live. Following a set of mostly new songs—they hopefully will record very very soon if not yesterday—they closed, of course, with a Sonics cover.
Speaking of amalgamations, what an odd and striking blend of music Nordista Freeze creates. If you Google Nordista Freeze the first autocomplete is “real name.” Let’s go with Mr. Freeze.
Mr. Freeze is a performer. A real rock ’n’ roll performer with bright golden Brian May locks and dance moves for days. It’s terribly hard to sit still while the lunacy of his voice, that swings from Elvis swoon to R&B tenor, follows a random circuitry of influences from far and wide within the rock universe leading the charge of something rather unique and undefinable, but wildly pleasurable.
Not to mention, he’s known for his stage antics. And when you’re known for your stage antics, you are put in quite possibly a dangerous position. You must perform what people are expecting to see. If your David Yow, the people expect something insane (and always get it). Mr. Freeze wanted to deliver. That much was clear.
As he danced to the mic with a devious grin and all those beautiful locks tucked away under an obnoxious cowboy hat, he was making plans. He was ready to cut loose some Red-Bull-Energy-Drink-Sponsored-Shit. So naturally, in Victory North that would include climbing the banister from the stage to the second floor.
The first time, he did not stick the landing coming back down very well and borrowed a trash can for the vomit his seven-foot drop induced. The second time, he had support and was crowd-surfed back onto stage, safely. He survived, mostly intact, his dancing would later indicate.
It was a show that struggled to end.
At the crescendo of the final song, in which Mr. Freeze shouts “1, 2, 3” to bring the band back in suddenly for just one more chorus, the fans would not let him stop bringing the band back in. There were five false endings, two of which happened thanks to Rev. Bro drummer Jalen Reyes, who could not resist sending the band into one more round. No one wanted to go home.
It was a high-octane dancy fun night. Energy was released and exchanged. Property was damaged. Stage dives happened. And it was all really fantastic to feel and see and hear live rock ’n’ roll again and not worry so much about the air your breathing.