Photos by Michael McGrath, story by Amy McGrath
“I fell in love with the sweet sensation
I gave my heart to a simple chord
I gave my soul to a new religion
Whatever happened to you?
Whatever happened to our rock ‘n roll?”
- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Whatever Happened to My Rock N’ Roll (Punk Song)
The news of the latest carnage in our schools was still agonizingly fresh and I spent my day consoling anxious and angry students. The vulgar, sociopathic demagogue in the White House continued to jab his chubby little fingers into the eyes of shell-shocked Americans. I worried about a friend in the hospital as we got news of the recent suicides of two others. Ready for solace, connection, communion and a cure for pain, we headed out in the snow to the Ogden Theater.
San Francisco’s garage/psych outfit Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have spent the last twenty years bringing darkly psychedelic garage rock to the masses, and their show at the Ogden on Thursday night proved they have the goods to deliver direct, soul-soothing, mind-numbing rock music; the ideal fare for a much needed service of rock and roll church.
A hypnotic, driving opening set by Night Beats set the perfect tone for the night. The band hails from Seattle but their spiritual home is Austin; their sound evokes the classic psych-tinged R&B of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, or…if Chuck Berry played with Jefferson Airplane as his backing band. Night Beats quickly warmed the undulating, energized Ogden Crowd, their controlled psychedelic frenzy the perfect soundtrack for overtaking the gloom of the day.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club emerged from darkness and fog, decked in black leather jackets, the sacred garments of rock. Their driving set featured music from their new album, Wrong Creatures, as well as a sampling of their strongest work from the several decades, including “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” and “Spread Your Love.” BRMC’s stage presence emanates rock and roll cool, and their sound rides waves of reverb- always circling back to memorable, strong melodies.
We checked in with old friends, talked about our families, work, favorite new music. We were transported from the day’s chaos and trauma to a warm place of celebration, elevation, communion. We prayed.