Bring Your Ray Gun LIVE at Empty Bottle 06/03/2014
Bring Your Ray Gun/ Moving Units
June 3, 2014
Photo Credit: Nate Lindsay
I first saw Bring Your Ray Gun perform in May, when I dropped by Ragged Claw’s CD release party at Café Mustache. As they began to play, Paul Karner (the lead singer and guitarist of Ragged Claws) turned to me and stated that Bring Your Ray Gun was one of his favorite local bands. Karner not only has a lovely voice and a philanthropic side (check out his amazing work with musicians in Haiti at www.carrefourcollaborative.org), he also has fabulous taste in music. I was all ears.
My favorite way to start out a night of band watching at the Empty Bottle is to dine at the neighboring Bite Café prior. On a recent Tuesday, Moving Units, an LA dance-punk band, headlined and Bring Your Ray Gun opened. I mentioned to our server at Bite that we were headed over to check out the show, she smiled and said (with a fist to her heart), “Bring Your Ray Gun, those are my guys.” Ringing endorsement #2. I’m ready for the show.
Shortly thereafter, sporting mirrored shades, a collapsed mohawk of sorts, an Old Style tank top and one very impressive beard, Bring Your Ray Gun front man, Josh Lambert, took the stage with his fellow bandmates. The band played an impressive and fast 7-song set of appealing and accessible dance-rock indie music. Every song was solid, simple and catchy. The crowd didn’t hesitate to dance along with Lambert. He is fascinating to watch, so is the rest of the band.
There were songs I thought should be super-hero themes, songs that felt like anthems to the young about being young, and songs that had bass player Heather Perry handling her instrument like an automatic weapon of speed bass. Carlos Zapata’s drumming was unbelievably tight with significant attention paid to the hi-hat. Will Wood delivered a heavier guitar, breaking up the repetition of dance beats with splashes of pleasing and interesting grit. Synth melodies permeated. I heard bits of Bloc Party and the Rapture, especially in Lambert’s vocals.
Their final song, What We Like, should be a radio hit. Heavy on the voice effects, extra buoyant in spirit, this song could pass as a Phoenix tune in moments– minus a smattering of Lambert’s rap-infused vocals. I spoke with Lambert at the Ragged Claws show and Wood at the Bottle show. Both were, humble and helpful. Wood broke down their influences for me: Lambert favors LCD Sound System and Iggy Pop, the rhythm section players are Metric fans and Wood was heavily influenced by the Chili Peppers.
Bring Your Ray Gun’s performance was raw and energetic, making them remarkably engaging performers. I’m always on the hunt for solid Chicago acts. Karner and the server at Bite were spot on. Bring Your Ray Gun tops the list. Be sure to check out their 4-song EP available on Bandcamp.
Worth mentioning: I caught part of Moving Units. After seeing their drummer’s intense look and elaborate warm-up routine, I felt compelled to stay for a few tunes.
Moving Units has that LA sophistication and a sound a bit like a darker Franz Ferdinand (the vocals are less bright). Thoroughly danceable and dimensional, Moving Units was impressive. I look forward to checking out their recorded music.
Both bands delivered fully-engaging, energetic dance music performed with actual instruments. This doesn’t appear to be an easy task, especially for the rhythm sections. Their hard work paid off as that room full of sweaty, happy dancers could attest.