The Sonics

SXSW showcase reviews

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Photo by Aubrey Edwards

The Sonics

Emo's Main, Friday, March 20

The Sonics' Boom was an aptly named album, introducing the Seattle seminals with, "This is the Big Bang of garage rock and roll." Indeed, the primal, focused violence of the Sonics continues raging after more than 40 years. Every instrument is clean and hard and hits with a vicious impact; vocalists Jerry Roslie and Don Wilhelm yowl nihilistic blues in perfect tune. Jovial saxman Rob Lind plays emcee, reminding the crowd of their good intentions and cracking jokes about the band's age. "A Sonics T-shirt signifies to your dad that you just don't give a crap," he cracked. When the Sonics broke up, my dad was 9. There are few surprises with the Sonics. The set hinges on searing versions of "Strychnine," "Psycho," and "The Witch"; they round it out with Little Richard's "Money (That's What I Want)" and "I Hear You Knocking," and, with half-sincere apologies to Black Flag, probably the meanest version of "Louie Louie" ever conceived. The power of garage rock comes from its ability to stun you through brute force even when it's predictable. How else could a roomful of people shout along "'cause she's a witch!!!" as if it were a spontaneous expression of a real emotion? It's because the Sonics beat them into a frenzy.

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