Aftermath went to Fitzgerald's Saturday night to cover two bands: The Examples and Johnny Gunhand & the Ramblin' Reverends. We were sent by someone whose musical taste we respect, so we were looking forward to what we were sure would be a good show. We ended up spending an hour upstairs listening to a different band entirely, because of some poorly-made pamphlets at the front door. The band we watched upstairs, a group of middle-school students, played for their parents, their friends and their friends' parents. "I wrote it when I was 11," the young lead singer and guitarist told the audience about one song. "I was grounded." Aftermath couldn't help but feel that we had upset our bosses, and this was our punishment. Eventually, though, we ended up downstairs - we wanted a burger - and as we walked downstairs - lo and behold! - there we found Johnny Gunhand & the Ramblin Reverends. The group, which struck us as a sort of faux-country that doesn't take itself too seriously, focused on the audience's energy and channeled its own through its instruments. A few songs into their set, Gunhand covered Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" as a few couples even began to dance along. For whatever reason, Gunhand and the Examples switched spots. After the former, our expectations were raised. While drawing a comparison between the two is impossible due to drastically different genres, both bands were a lot of fun. Before the three members of the Examples were finished setting up their gear, they brought a female friend onto the stage to perform "Crazy" by Patsy Cline. (Cline hated the song, written by Willie Nelson, in case you didn't know.) She seemed nervous when she first stepped behind the mike, and we were worried she'd hold back and hinder herself. Surprisingly, she hit the high notes and quickly warmed up to the spotlight. The Examples, an upbeat indie rock band, didn't move around onstage much, but their fast-paced tunes (coupled with unintelligible lyrics) were impossible not to get into. Drummer James Ashworth carried many of the songs as lead singer Josh Blevin, tall and lanky in skinny jeans and loafers, served the audience with quick, upbeat riffs we thought sounded like very early Kings of Leon before they got so popular and poppy. When we mentioned what we heard to Ashworth, though, he was quick to disagree and give us a list of his influences: Lightning Bolt, Pavement, Black Flag, Deerhunter and Sonic Youth. "We all come from different scenes, sort of. I was part of the Gulf Coast Hardcore thing for awhile as a drummer in Cumsquirt, the Ale Gore and EndIsNow," Ashworth told us. "In those bands, I played at the Southmore House and the Rats Nest." Could we have been more off? Well, we liked what we heard and, at the end of the day, that's all that really matters. Most of the audience were friends of the band members. "It's great to have so many friends," Blevin said onstage. "It's been too long since we all got together." Ashworth also served as the band's whipping boy. His two bandmates didn't hesitate to make fun of him for taking off his shirt after the group's first song. But our own band's drummer, whom we have lovingly nicknamed Man Sweater, is the punch line to many of our jokes, too. So we understand, and we do it because we like the guy. After the show, we asked both bands for CDs, hoping to jam some local talent on the drive home, but to no avail. Both bands are still working on albums, but for the time being Aftermath will have to be patient. We've never been too good at that. In the meantime, though, the Examples were nice enough to email us MP3s of
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"This is the most cohesive band I've ever played in. Our personalities go well together," Ashworth said. "Andrew and I come from the death metal/hardcore/grindcore scene, so it is a big jump to play garage punk like the Examples does. But I like it better, especially when playing live. I don't think people should be afraid of melody. Anyway, '-core' bands are a dime a dozen these days. So I'll keep my distance." So will we.