In Review: Weston Horn & The Hush, Pawn Shop Heroes, Wither and The Normandys at The Vanguard
So, I left off on my last review of the show with Pawn Shop Heroes. Now I will move on to the other two great bands from the night, Wither and The Normandys.
Wither hit the stage and shifted the gears from a punk mode into alternative hard rock seamlessly without losing any of the energy set up for them by the previous acts. They've done quite well for themselves this year with having released an official music video for their song "Lights Out".
This isn't the first time they've shared the stage with The Normandys either, as they played The Vanguard with them late last year. Being only a three piece and performing the style of music they do means that they have a lot of heavy lifting to do each. Frontman Jeremy Parrish holds the duties of lead and rhythm guitar along with supplying vocals. However, he flawlessly executed all these roles throughout the course of the set. His ability is apparent as his vocal range in different songs is not at all hindered by him playing his guitar and shifting between the lead and rhythm as well. There's no better example of this than perhaps the aforementioned song "Lights Out", where Jeremy must fly across the neck of his guitar all while keeping in time and hitting everything from high to low notes singing while mixing screams into the mix. It's an absolutely breathtaking display of a musician who's put in hours upon hours to hone his craft. Keeping the pace that Jeremy had to keep up with was his drummer and brother Chuck. He's swift and impeccable while transitioning during songs from sections that have double pedal speed to toning it back quickly to laying down a simple beat. His
innate talent as a drummer lead to excellent fillers, smooth rolls and precise beat keeping that. The work he does adds a punch to the music that you can feel in your chest. For the punch that you can feel in your face, look no further than the man holding the bass guitar. Jeremy Harrington, known better as Gonzo on stage, provided bass lines that gives them their heavy sound. While working in tandem with Chuck to keep the ever changing tempo he also contributes back up vocals. Gonzo displayed a good knowledge of stage presence during their set as well by nearing the edge of the stage to engage with the crowd and head bang like a beast. Wither did a fantastic job on their whole set and closed out on a high note with their song "Last Breath". They kept the liveliness in the venue and set the stage for The Normandys to come out to a high energy crowd. If you are looking to catch Wither, keep track of them through either their Facebook page or their Reverbnation.
And finally, the night's headliners, The Normandys. In a very different intro than I've ever seen them do, all of the band members came out dressed to impress in full cowboy getups. But not before having a projector put a western themed logo up on the backdrop and the classic showdown tune playing them on. After getting a hilarious crowd reaction, they started in on a cover of "I've Got Friends in Low Places". As an added bonus, they had asked various people to aid in their shenanigans and come up on stage to sing with them. They had members of the other bands up there and even had asked that I come up. It was a entertaining way to engage with the crowd and add some memorable moments for everyone involved. After that, they uncapped a whiskey bottle full of energy and lit it up on stage with their
hyperactive antics and style of punk rock. They blended in songs from their "Booze, Bitterness and Broken Hearts" album with some of their newer works from the album they are currently working on. Lead singer Jay Horn was a flash all around the song from as soon as they ended the cover song until they hit the last note. But that's his usual style. His enthusiasm is infectious and he gets the crowd involved by doing things like having them sing lyrics or getting in the crowd to mix it up. Jay's voice is also unique and easily discernible. Raspy and loud but in a good way that gives them a signature voice for the well written lyrics.
The drummer Pete Webb and bassist Les Hodge along with rhythm guitarist Shawn Degan hold down a superb pocket. I've never seen Pete leave anything but exasperated after a performance and this show was no different. His work doesn't go unnoticed, especially during their performance of "Bruce". Quick and splendid work on the toms during the bridges really set up for great choruses. And if you are looking to pinpoint where in the night Les and Shawn had their moment in the sun it was about halfway through the set with "She's a Waste". They make constant tempo changes and quick stops in a fast drinking style song. Accuracy is of the utmost importance during this song and they nailed it. And last, but not least, is
lead guitarist. If you weren't impressed with his work with Weston Horn & The Hush earlier in the night then you got a chance to watch him try his hand at a whole different genre. Weston brings an unusual style of lead to punk music. Often, you'll find highly distorted, fuzzy lead guitars but Weston plays with a much cleaner tone that made his compositions very noticeable in opposition to the rest of what you're hearing on stage. It's just one more aspect to The Normandys that truly sets them apart from other punk bands. It was a performance by all the member's that was worthy of the way they label themselves as "working class punk rock". If you are looking to catch The Normandys in the future, the will be playing with Local H and The Toadies at Diamond Ballroom in Oklahoma City on September 7th. Don't forget to check out all of their social media accounts as well, including Reverbnation, Spotify and Facebook.
In Summation: If you've heard me on interviews lately, such as Porch Talk with Chris and Laura on Facebook or The New Tulsa Sound on Speakr.com, you'll have heard me say that I intended on being fair and more critical of bands when writing show reviews. And I tried. I truly did. But this show went off without a hitch. I have to give credit where it's due first. The lights and sound were amazing and there wasn't a single issue with that throughout the night. The Vanguard did an excellent job hosting this concert and we'd like to personally thank the owner Duston for allowing us to to cover this event and the bar staff for our great drinks! And all of the bands performed at a level that exceeded any expectation I had going in. And those expectations were high since I'd seen all of the bands live before, with the exception of Wither ( I intend on changing that when given the chance guys). This was one of those shows that you can't point to when people say they don't want to pay to see local bands and you could say you aren't just paying for music, you are paying for an experience you couldn't have anywhere else.
Please check out all the bands mentioned in the article. Each has at least a Facebook and a Reverbnation. You can also check out The Vanguard by going to a show, which they have going on nearly seven days a week. Support your local music scene.