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Bonnaroo Reviewed: Royal Bangs

Knoxville, TN-bred quintet sway this journalist with turbo-pop song craft, melodic keys, frantic guitars and seemingly unlimited energy.

William Goodman // June 14, 2008

Our first discovery of Bonnaroo ’08, Royal Bangs hit my radar as a “why not?” late night suggestion, and now — though only one day in — rates as the best show I’ve yet to see. Led by the bearded force that is Ryan Schaefer, the quintet churned out their multi-tasking, multi-faceted blitz-pop tunes to a crowd predominantly seated in the grass in the Troo Music Lounge. But at the request of Schaefer, concertgoers rose to their feet and it was then the show hit full throttle.

Featuring two pounding drums, many tunes off the outfit’s debut full-length We Breed Champions, including the driving “Handcuff Killa,” took on a snap-crackle-pop rhythmic feel as key blips rode slashing, sharp guitars courtesy of axeman Sam Stratton. Schaefer leapt atop amps and bounced about in the audience before returning to his keyboard for “Broke Calculator,” which grooved at a slower pace, a bevy of Moog notes segueing into sliding guitars and a catchy, lackadaisical vocal ramble. It’s discoveries like Royal Bangs that make a late night (well after 2:45 A.M.) worthwhile.

Watch Royal Bangs rock out: