On a hot summer Sunday night deep in the heart of Montrose, five legendary local rockers take the stage at Rudyard’s upstairs room to not only to promote new music and play a fiercely aggressive set but also to take turns flippantly kicking one another in the bum onstage. Baron Von Bomblast want to make one thing perfectly clear: they exist solely as “Dirty Houston Party Rock,” as described by vocalist Allison Gibson.
Made up of some of Houston’s most talented rockers, this ensemble’s resume reads like a list of Houston's best bands: Manhole, Deadhorse, 30 FootFall, Pasadena Napalm Division, Dollyrockers and Middlefinger. BVB brings all that experience together in a side project with one mission: to join ‘Rock’ and ‘Party’ in holy matrimony.
A BVB show is not unlike attending a jam session at a house party. With all the catharsis of a long-awaited Friday-night bender after a stressful week of work, BVB releases tension through high-energy sets full of punk rock and cold brews. If that sounds sloppy or unprofessional to you, then you’re completely missing the point.
While each member gives their very best professional abilities to their respective “serious” bands, BVB is their release: a side project among friends to let the good times roll. As a general rule, nothing is to be taken seriously in BVB; after speaking with the members, these smartasses want nothing more than to spread the hilarity and good times.
I was lucky enough to catch them after a recent set at Rudyard’s and witnessed a charming closeness among the members. There is an easy familiarity here, like people you’ve known your whole life. Bass player Joel Torrez warmly shook my hand before introducing me to his wife and friends. Hugs came easy, shots and rounds poured in, with no expectations outside a damn good time among old friends.
Drummer Brian Davis laughed at attaching any kind of seriousness to the idea of BVB, offering a tongue-in-cheek description. “An aggressive drunk-rock band featuring and handful of failed rock stars.” Far from failure, their attitude is definitely a refreshing change from the uber-sensitive and self-important rock-star airs that can unfortunately come with many artists struggling to find success.
Pointing out a BVB button, Gibson draws my attention to the letters under the wehrmacht-esque skullface symbol and the letters “C.A.F.” With a wide smile and bright eyes, she leans in: “It’s our motto, ‘Classy As Fuck.’” With songs like “Liquor Cabinet” and “Bringing the Hammer Down” from their new EP, Shotguns and Liquor Stores (available now on iTunes), BVB plays the kind of full-bore punk rock reminiscent of early-'80’ groups like Minor Threat, D.R.I. and the Descendents.
Typically clad in cut-off shorts, fishnet stockings and star-spangled cowgirl boots, Gibson is a longstanding pillar of Houston’s punk-rock scene. Her legendary Danizig-inspired alto pairs well fronting the thrashy riffs of BVB’s lo-fi tunes.
The set is a sonic tribute to the best elements of hardcore musicality. Of course, to expect any less from this gathering is to misunderstand that these very members helped build the legendary Houston punk rock scene in the 90’s. Writing and creating music for the members of BVB is the most natural and artistic reflex they have.
Guitarist Josh Yelley explains the writing process: “It happens fast and simple," he says. "We don't [move] backwards. We write a riff together and move on. It's a fun way to do it. No arguments. Just own what you came up with and hope it floats. We all can write. So, it's a gamble and potluck thing.”
BVB’s sound is straight from the days before punk rock was ruined by a bunch of chart-topping pop-punk posers. Think Circle Jerks and 7 Seconds, back to a time where you discovered your next favorite band on a cassette tape passed around by a dozen gutter punks before it reached your hands. While their music carries all the necessary rawness to inspire a vigorous round of slam-dancing, you won’t find any youthful idealistic militant politics or crust-punk social-justice messages.
Bassist Torrez explains his own motivations for joining the group. “I just got lucky with joining BVB," he says. "We had such a good time, things just started falling into place. There were no egos or anything like that. Everyone was super-cool, and just wanted to have a good time and write some good bar music, nothing fancy, technical, or flashy, just good straight forward rock and roll.”
While the members of Baron aren’t opposed to fame or doing what it takes to get to the next level of exposure, that’s not necessarily their vision. There are too many pranks to be played, jokes to be told and good times to be had. Davis lays the sarcasm on heavy when describing the members’ shared goals: “As long as it continues to be fun, then we will continue our quest for world domination and require all U.S. citizens to be tattooed with the mark of the BVB," he says before adding, “We’d also like to audition on The Voice as an a cappella group.
“Of course, [we] have lots of planned things in the works," continues Yelley. "However, I'm the mushroom of the group: they keep me in the dark and feed me shit. [We want to tour] Texas and Louisiana, but our ankle bracelets prohibit much travel...”
Catch these jokesters' next gig this Friday, August 19 at Acadia Bar and Grill (3939 Cypress Creek Pkwy.) celebrating "Pigtails and Bubblegum" with Broken By the Burden, Large Marge and Beyond Oblivion.
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