Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chicago two piece Local H pulverize Mercy with punishing hard rock

Scott Lucas is a very serious man, and in all things it's easy to tell he's very intense. At least that's the case when it comes to preforming live with his long running garage rock band, Local H. The two piece Chicago hard rockers hit their stride in the mid-90s with a run of semi successful singles and have kept it going ever since.

Scott Lucas of Local H goes nuts during a shred session at Mercy Lounge.

On an oppressively blustery and windy Thursday night, Lucas took at the stage at Nashville's finest club venue, Mercy Lounge, in a stonewashed plaid shirt that a piece of vintage 90s fashion. He looks like a less photogenic version of Leo DiCaprio, though his music rings through with such a straightforward, aggressive vigor that there is no doubting the sincerity of his craft. The playing isn't very technical aside from drummer Brian St. Clair, but who says raw aggression can't be every bit as engaging?

His sound, is geared toward creating far more noise than two guys should be capable of making. This is achieved partly though playback switches that activate guitar rhythms,  partly through an echo effect applied to his mic, and partly through pure badassery. The raw energy put out by this two piece is reminiscent of the Japandroids; that is, if the Japandroids were in their forties -- older, smarter, wiser, and perhaps more cynical. But no less viscous.

He was pretty energetic -- jumping off speakers, headbanging, even grabbing a fan's phone at one point a fiddling with it before handing it back and resuming his playing. And he had several surprises in store for us all though the night. Notable setlist standouts included "Bound for the Floor," from 1996, essentially the band's biggest hit. It has a washed out 90s atmosphere reminiscent of grunge and Nirvana without explicitly sounding like either. It's perfectly acceptable skateboarding music.

Lucas also shows off his humor on "California Songs," on which he derides the vast volume of songs paying tribute to the the Golden State. He had the crowd enthusiastically shouting along with the central refrain, "No more California songs!"

"And fuck New York too!" he spat.

Brian St. Clair, left, and Scott Lucas comprise Chicago based hard rock band Local H.

Mayan references were impossible to get away from, even here. Lucas got into a conversation with one fan
over whether we were all going to burn up at midnight or at 5 am. Later, he drove the point home with a cover of Rush's "2112." It all ended with a demented Christmas carol. He looked like a mental patient while singing Jingle Bells while a piercing layer of feedback buzzed in the background. It concluded with Lucas shouting the final refrain.

Local rockers 100 Watt Opera warmed the seat for him, who brought a vintage high flying rock attack to Mercy. Their sound bared strong resemblance to Van Halen or perhaps some random NWOBHM band, albeit without the godly solos. Instead we had to suffice with a series of low volume wah solos from the strings of lead guitarist Jesse Floyd.

Singer William Baugh sounded like he was trying to do a simultaneous impersonation of Bruce Dickinson and Blaze Bayley -- and a poor one that at. The band was high spirited and crunchy enough to be engaging, though not very fulfilling.

Lucas himself kicked off the night with an acoustic set, preforming under the name Scott Lucas & the Married Men. The set consisted of about five or six heartfelt and meaningful tunes, culminating in his howling cover of "Ain't No Grave."

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