"But have you seen my records?" asked LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy towards the end of 2002’s tongue-in-cheek zeitgeist-capturing indie rock manifesto "Losing My Edge." He rattles off a whole litany of bands before coming to his feverish conclusion: "The Sonics! The Sonics! The Sonics! The Sonics!" Formed in Tacoma, Washington in 1960, The Sonics unknowingly paved the way for huge swaths of alternative and underground music that followed. They were the ultimate protopunk band, churning out lightning bolts of attitude-drenched garage rock and transformed covers of early R&B hits. They left behind only two LPs--their 1965 debut masterpiece Here Are The Sonics and its 1966 follow-up Boom. Three of their songs appear on the expanded version of the epochal Nuggets compilation. Now, fifty years later, they’ve decided to hit the road again on the heels of their long-overdue third album This Is The Sonics, and one of the few stops is right here in Cincinnati at The Woodward Theater.
The new album doesn’t stray far from the classic Sonics formula. Singer and keyboardist Gerry Roslie, guitarist Larry Parypa, and and saxophonist Rob Lind all remain from the band’s heyday. Veteran punk drummer Dusty Watson lays down no-frills backbeats, while Lind and Parypa double up on driving riffs. Roslie is in fine voice, and his piano chimes above the fray on the speed exercise "The Hard Way" and pounds out the solo on "Sugaree." Fifty years later, The Sonics are still an extremely effective and locked in rock and roll outfit. There’s nothing new here, but there didn’t need to be--just a mix of hard-hitting originals and unhinged interpretations of classics like "I Don’t Need No Doctor" and "Leaving Here."
Boston-based openers Barrence Whitfield and the Savages are no strangers to Cincinnati. They’ve recorded here several times, and are only three months removed from a Woodward headlining gig of their own. (See our January interview with Whitfield here). The band ran in punk scenes back in the 80s, playing shows alongside the likes of The Damned, and reformed in 2011 after most of two decades off. Whitfield is a howling soul showman, a kinetic presence onstage, and at recent shows has been guesting with The Sonics during their headlining set.