• Review

Review: L.S. Dunes & Pinkshift at Bogart's

Photo Cred: Jared Bowers

There’s a little bit of last night that still feels surreal. I’m not prone to fanboying all that much anymore, but I have to say, I had a few moments that came pretty damn close…

For those unfamiliar with Pinkshift - which I’m guessing is quite a few of you - all I can say is you’re missing out on something special. Birthed at the start of the pandemic, they’re a band that found their following almost entirely through online interaction. I’m not even entirely sure how I got turned on to them… likely Twitter before it became even more of an unbearable hellscape. But their first EP sounded like a band that already had a lot of who they are and what they’re doing figured out. That doesn’t happen often, y’all.


Fronted by the absolutely commanding Ashrita Kumar, the Baltimore band fuses big rock energy with gigantic vocals with My Chem-inspired songcraft to create a uniquely Punk and Rock sound that doesn’t really fit anywhere but somehow fits everywhere at the same time. Guitarist Paul Vallejo shreds when called for, but always keeps the songs humming along at a chaotic and propulsive clip. On the drums, Myron Houngbedji keeps it all from going off the rails - because at times their songs feel dangerously close to doing so - and bounces between surprisingly heavy breakdowns, pop punk speed, and anthemic rock. It’s a stirring, often moving mixture of bits and pieces from across the Rock spectrum, and live, it is a goddamn delight to watch unfold in real time.

Working from tracks found on their debut EP, Saccharine, and their first full-length release, Love Me Forever, the band dominated, for lack of a better word, the newly relit and reconfigured stage at Bogart’s. From note one, the band felt as at home on a stage with 500 fans in the crowd as they did on the ground - in a skatepark - just a couple short weeks ago. That alone made their live performance an instant classic for me. Big energy, lots of good vibes, and a whole lot of fun. If they’re playing near you, get your ticket ASAP.


As far as “supergroups” go, I usually don’t care, or am thoroughly disappointed by what’s on offer musically. L.S. Dunes might actually be the first exception for me. Comprised of 5 members from 4 of my all-time favorite bands, it was impossible NOT to get excited about the possibilities. This is now the third band I’ve seen Anthony Green front, and the fourth group I’ve listened to that he was a part of (check out the first Zolof The Rock & Roll Destroyer album). I managed to catch the first run of Saosin shows a long time ago, and I’ve seen Circa Survive several times. Circa Survive is still on regular rotation for me. I’ve seen Frank Iero, one of the guitarists from My Chemical Romance (ever heard of them?) play on the floor of a VFW hall in New Jersey and on stage at a sold out arena show in Cincy. Travis Stever, guitarist for Coheed & Cambria, has played in Cincinnati at a few venues now - the smallest being the second iteration of The Void, along with The Starting Line and Finch (2001 was a weird, weird year). Then there’s drummer Tucker Rule and bassist Tim Payne of Thursday, who will be back in town later this year. I dare say I was in the bag for this one as soon as their first album was announced.


I do try to stay away from hyperbole, especially when I’m writing about a band like this - musicians I’ve been listening to for half my life now - but last night’s show was honestly one of the best live sets I’ve seen this year. Though they’re only working from a single album and a newly released track - both of which came out this year - the crowd was amped, energetic, loudly singing along to every song. The band was dynamic, always moving, with Green pausing between runs of songs to thank everyone for being there and so engaged. As a live band, I really hope to see them continue to hone in on all the things that make them such compelling musicians individually and together. On their album Past Lives, the energy is there, as is the talent and the promise of something great. It really comes to life on stage, and the reason for the band’s existence becomes much clearer. Sure, it’s a bit more straightforward than what they all do in their original bands, but they all also bring those things to L.S. Dunes and make it work fairly seamlessly. I wouldn’t have thought to pair guitarists from Coheed & Cambria and My Chemical Romance with the vocalist of Circa Survive, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make all kinds of sense to me now.


If you have the chance to see them live - and it looks like a lot of you will on this run (for which I’m thankful that they made Cincinnati a stop) - you really should. Whether you’re a fan of their other bands or already a fan of this one, it’s an experience that’s as sincere and, most importantly, fun, as you could want.

My thanks to the Bogart’s crew for being among the best in the city - y’all are a joy to work with. And kudos to the Bogart’s team on the new lighting setup, as well. It looked incredible up close and in the crowd. A hell of an upgrade that made this simple photographer really happy.

L.S. Dunes

Open Album