Story and Photos by Tony Bonyata"Hello there ladies and gentlemen! Are you ready to rock? Are you ready or not?," screamed lead singer and bassist Dolf Datsun at the top of his lungs as his band The Datsuns stormed the stage of Vnuk's Lounge last Wednesday and ripped through a smoldering version of Cheap Trick's "Hello There." But with his high-strung antics and in-your-face delivery, Dolf's opening question seemed more like a direct order as the small but fervent crowd immediately coagulated towards the stage. They were ready to rock, alright.
Just in case there's anybody out there that hasn't heard, rock 'n' roll is back in full swing. And this scruffy New Zealand quartet are currently doing the rounds here in the States to ensure that even those living under a rock knows it.
With battling twin lead guitars from Phil and Christian, howling vocals and a mortar crumbling rhythm section from Dolf and drummer Matt (in the much the same manner as The Ramones shared the same last name, so do The Datsuns), these guys made no qualms about letting Milwaukeeans know just how hard they do rock. Wasting no time, the band tore through primordial rockers from their self-titled full-length album, such as the troglodyte bump-and-grind of "Harmonic Generator," the fast and furious buzzsaw guitar-driven "Sittin' Pretty," the one-two sucker punch of "MF from Hell," "In Love," which sounded like Iggy Pop saddling up a stegosaurus, and the sweet raunch of "What Would I Know."
If some of their material sounded vaguely familiar that's because they've taken so many different elements, such as the glammed-up wallop of T. Rex, AC/DC's knucklehead power chords and the rushing tides of metal from Deep Purple, and condensed them all into three minute punk songs with a wink-and-a-nod to pop. But what seems to set this band even further apart from not only the aforementioned '70s rockers, but their own young contemporaries from Detroit, New York and Sweden as well, is the unbridled exuberance and sheer power that they generate on stage.
While the entire band was tightly synchronized, it was the raw and commanding vocals from Dolf and the blistering guitar histrionics from Phil, with long hair flailing and animated rock god posturing, that demanded most of the crowd's attention.
Opening up for The Datsuns were two bands with kindred spirits that rocked just as hard while beating to slightly different drums. NYC rockers The Star Spangles kicked things off with a spirited set of angular revved-up punk rock as if it were still 1978 in The Bowery, before Detroit garage rockers The Paybacks unleashed some of the crudest slabs of Motor City mayhem this side of Ann Arbor. Led by the blonde lovely Wendy Case, whose angst ridden cries and invasive guitar rattled the rafters, and fueled by the incendiary leads of newly recruited, pork-chop sideburned guitarist Danny Methric, this group of gritty shit-kickers proved onstage to be one of the stronger acts to emerge from Detroit's burgeoning garage rock scene.
This triple whammy bill only proved there's nothing the world could use now more than some good old-fashioned, kick-ass rock 'n' roll.
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