Live Review: Gringo Star @ Black Cat, 11/13/2011

I love seeing Gringo Star. I love going to shows at the Black Cat. So guess what happened when those darling Atlantans Gringo Star played the Black Cat once again? I'll give you a hint: yours truly was a very happy little lady. It was quite a different experience, this show, given what happened the last time I saw my favorite Gringos (which, sadly, did not end well at all). And that, friends, is a very good thing.

When the first filmy fingers of fog began seeping into the Black Cat's backstage, I couldn't help but start flashing back to Macrock 2011, when Gringo Star's set met an untimely end thanks to an overly sensitive sprinkler system and an agitated Harrisonburg Fire Department. It was a curious, though in truth very rock'n'roll ending to a festival that had been otherwise excellent. Happily, the Black Cat's fire prevention seems to be more used to smoke machines, and a repeat premature shutdown was avoided.

Good thing, too, because those four Gringos were in pretty rare form. As I discovered when I first listened to newest record Count Yer Lucky Stars, their penchant for paying homage to early Kinks and Hollies and Zombies had been allowed to expand into the fringes of psychedelia, mirroring somewhat the path charted by their forefathers. And I have to say that as verily as I enjoy the recorded works of Gringo Star, there's nothing quite like seeing them ripping through their rockness in the flesh.

The set was a great mix of old and new, demonstrating how comfortably their songs can rub shoulders while gettin' the heck down. Old favorite "All Y'all" was dandy, all sass and swagger and good, good times. "Count Yer Lucky Stars" was also sensational, with extra kudos to the ridiculously rip-roaring drummery. I'd say the band sounded rougher around the edges than recorded, as they had the first few times I'd seen them, and the extra attitude definitely became them. "I Will Not Follow" had a palpable pluckiness, the jangle of Gringo Star sneering just a touch as they galavanted across the stage.

The fog machine eventually coated the Black Cat with a feeling somewhat akin to summertime; air hung with moisture and that haunting mist of fake fog. By the time the Gringos got around to "Ask Me Why," probably my favorite song of the set, I was already counting my lucky stars that lightning hadn't struck twice and they had made it past their third song without getting shut down. As for "Ask Me Why," it had some extra spice in there with all that rollicking rocking and rolling.

"Shadow," first song off Count Yer Lucky Stars, was an instant new favorite. Very, very big, and is one of those songs that sees the gents moving into richer, more expansive sonic territory. I fell in smit with "Make You Mine" as well, a sweet little ditty that came across as altogether disalarmingly charming. Now there's a song with one heck of a good little shimmy that just aches to be danced to. The Gringos closed with a fiery "Holding Onto Hate," all wailing guitars and undeniable, tuneful noise.

All in all, those boys of Gringo Star once again did right by DC somethin' proper. Yours truly was well pleased, y'all, well pleased indeed. Hot damn.

mp3: You Want It (Gringo Star from Count Yer Lucky Stars)

[photo courtesy the official Gringo Star Facebook]


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