Folks are sure to be skeptical: A hard rock band featuring members of Fall Out Boy? Really? FOB writes Top-40 choruses, not bottom-heavy riff rock. They’re known for tabloid theatrics, not guitar heroics. They are emo, remember.
But despite any fan worries, The Damned Things – featuring FOB’s guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley – is a heavy band, and a pretty good one, too.
Of course, it helps to have some metal royalty in the group, in this case Anthrax guitarists Rob Caggiano and Scott Ian (he of the foot-long goatee). With singer Keith Buckley and touring bassist Josh Newton, both from Buffalo metalcore vets Every Time I Die, rounding out the lineup, The Damned Things offers up a veritable history lesson in the last 30 years of guitar rock – from metal to hardcore to emo.
This weekend, the band launched their MySpace page with “rough mixes” of two brand new songs: “We’ve Got a Situation Here” and “Ironiclast.” (Their still-untitled debut album is due out on Island in the fall.) And Tuesday night, The Damned Things played their very first public gig ever, at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory.
Normally, this crowd wouldn’t have been caught dead in each other’s company. Before the band’s set, emo kids with cheek piercings, Batman tattoo,s and Cure tote bags shuffled around hoping Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson might make an appearance, while older metal-heads in AC/DC, Metallica, and Skid Row T-shirts ogled the many guitars onstage and waited for Ian to show.
When he finally did, along with the rest of The Damned Things, everyone seemed to get along just fine.
The band dove headfirst into “Ironiclast,” a tune that, like much of The Damned Thing’s music, ran the knife-edge between melodic hardcore and classic rock. “This is the first show I’ve played sober in 10 years,” marveled Buckley after a rip-roaring “Bad Blood.” But he had no reason to worry. The Damned Things may be a new band, but they played liked old friends, cranking out hard rock tuneful enough for the alternative charts but brutal enough to please Buckley’s hardcore fans back home in Buffalo.
With the three-guitar attack, every song featured riffs and solos aplenty. But “A Great Reckoning” was the sextet’s showpiece. Trohman, his curly fro flying, whipped out a bluesy riff pulled straight from Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak before meeting up with Caggiano for some harmonized guitar duets. This is music made by and for guitar players.
Which is not to say Buckley wasn’t an able front man. His scorched-earth tenor carried his band from the first riff to the last, easily finding its way around The Damned Thing’s manic cover of Quicksand’s “Fazer,” one of Buckley’s favorite songs.
“I’m getting drunk as fuck after this!” he screamed at one point. If The Damned Things keep playing as well as they did in Brooklyn, Buckley will have every reason to keep celebrating. And those hoping for an FOB reunion will just have to wait.
2. Excellent Time
3. Bad Blood
4. A Great Reckoning
5. Handbook for the Recently Deceased
6. Fazer (Quicksand cover)
7. Grave Robber
8. We’ve Got a Situation Here