Criminal Menacing, Three Strikes and the Coffin Ri by AltOhio.com Show review Aaron George Flat out, there aren’t many good bands in Akron. I say this not to debase anyone’s creative efforts, but simply to say that Akron is small and though we have given the...
Criminal Menacing, Three Strikes and the Coffin Ri by AltOhio.com Show review
Flat out, there aren’t many good bands in Akron. I say this not to debase anyone’s creative efforts, but simply to say that Akron is small and though we have given the world some great bands, at any given time there is likely to only be a handful of acts here that are doing something interesting. In fact, I’m sure that in any local scene, most of the bands you see are pretty much identikit, different names, sounds, members, but same over all experience. So when you go to a show that is good, it makes you happy, and when you go to some shows, you just sort of know that the band you are watching is one of the best things your city’s music scene has going for it. If your city is like mine, than chances are it is teaming with decent acts, but there are a few who offer something none of the other groups can. If I had to guess at which Akron groups are most worth watching and keeping an eye on, Criminal Menacing and the Three Strikes would be somewhere in the top 3.
Monday night they played at the Euro Gyro in Kent, a pizza place/bar that has decent food, moderately priced Amber bock and a stage. What more could you ask for? Granted, the pizza ovens make it sweltering during the summer, but eh, its music. For a Monday night show, I didn’t expect many people to cram into the place, but oddly enough there were more than enough people there to make the show fun.
The night started off good with Kent natives, The Coffin Riders, offering up their own take on surf rock. One of the better types of music to see live (and less embraced by the East/Mid-west parts of the US), The Coffin riders do the genre justice and lace it with a bit of their own brand in the form of blistering vocals and an all out good time. At the risk of sounding cliché I will describe the band as a blend of the better aspects of Dick Dale, The Misfits and maybe a dash of some screaming metal band. As (I guess) props, they brought along a few boogie boards that, at some point hit the beer soaked floor and provided a good amount of laughs in the form of burly tattooed guys falling on their ass. For more on The Coffin Riders, check out their MySpace. You will notice that on the page they have some great horn and organ work, but sadly it was missing from Monday’s performance.
After The Coffin Riders finished, Criminal Menacing and the Three Strikes took the stage. Comprised of members with roots in the Akron music scene (including a former member of the punk band Pipe Bomb, and the two main creative players from The Rubber City Rat Pack), Criminal Menacing has a sound unique to the area, and in general. Whether it’s the organ played by Rat Pack Ryan, the ska/reggae influenced guitar and gritty vocals of Eliot “Gumshoe” Calfee, the frenetic bass of Brandon Mick, or the precise and energetic drumming of Jeremy, it all combines into something original and refreshing.
One thing I have noticed about every Criminal Menacing show is that the crowd is always big and always paying attention, if not dancing to the music. This energy is only increased when they play their “classic” Chippewa, a groove heavy song about drug addiction that is almost guaranteed to get even the stiffest of audience members bobbing their head or tapping their toes. One of the best things about a Criminal Menacing show though is that while its nothing too out of the ordinary to see people mosh at a show, to have people dance out of happiness instead of anger is something few bands can manage.
They pretty much covered everything off their new album, Homesick, opening with the song “Where’d it Go” which is a perfect example of the bands calm reggae influenced, then loud and fast style of play. It’s good because as each verse progresses it slowly builds, until the music sounds ready to burst, and then it does burst and the result not only sounds great, but is pretty satisfying. On top of this there is a good amount of interaction with and connection to the audience that lets you know that these guys are down to earth, unassuming local musicians.
While the majority of the bands lyrics focus on darker subjects, they do a good job of making their shows and music fun. Not only do they infuse one of their songs with lyrics from rapper T.I.’s single “Whatever you like” but at this show they covered “Can’t help falling in love with you” by Elvis, kicking the song in the ass and adding some excellent harmonica work by Rat Pack Ryan.
If you look at the landscape and culture of Akron, and especially if you live here for long enough, you begin to notice a unique yet balanced mixture that is characteristic of the city. We have a boisterous past, and some rather bleak spots along the way to the present. We have (however small it is) a skyline, but the majority of the city is not typically “city.” Some parts of town have sprawling lawns, while others are decaying and sick with crime and drugs. Whether or not it is intentional, I don’t think it would be at all out of place to say that Criminal Menacing and the Three Strikes manages to capture and express this mixture through their music. While many of their songs deal with subjects like crime, dejection, heartbreak, and even prostitution, the driving force of their songs and performance is one that smirks at troubles and, in its own way, encourages.
But all lofty musing aside, the bottom line of going to a show is all about having fun, and I have yet to meet anyone who has gone to a Criminal Menacing show and had a bad time or been disappointed. Monday, looking at the people watching, it was clear that this show was no acceptation to that. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if some day Criminal Menacing went on to bigger things than playing Akron/Kent bars, but for now that’s what they are doing, which means that the majority of their shows are free and that we all get the chance to see what happens with this relatively new, yet dynamic band.
To hear them for yourselves, check out their MySpace, I think they have the whole album up and, luckily, what you hear on recorded tracks is closer than you might expect to how they sound live.
Also playing that night was Weird Penis, whose attention getting name is fully backed up by their loud, attention getting music, and The Killroys, who went on last and unfortunately I missed, but whose lead singer described as straight up street punk.
Hopefully sometime soon I will be able to see these last two bands in full and let you all know how it was. But until then, keep an eye out for The Coffin Riders, and if you happen to see CMeNXXX on a local bar marquee, chances are it wont be porn, but rather some really good music.