We Saw This: Black Bananas
On Friday night Black Bananas took a detour on their tour with the Kills and headlined Mercury Lounge in Manhattan with openers Wild Yaks and Bosco Delray. The Wild Yaks went on first.
I kind of can’t believe I haven’t written about this band before. They are one of my favorite Brooklyn bands, they play a special breed of uninhibited party rock that stresses the good times without being the least bit fratty. Rob Bryn’s got a killer voice, a raspy belt that conjours up some of the dad rock greats. Their drummer Martin Cartagena is hands-down one of my favorite drummers to watch, most of the time he looks like Animal from the Muppets.
This show he was more subdued. I think it was the dashiki. The other guys are great too. I’d tell you when to see them but I am not sure when they are playing next. They’ve got a record coming out in November and if you missed them at Mercury, missed them at Rippers, missed them at the Bushwick Block Party, and weren’t invited to my friend Pam’s bachelorette party I don’t know what to tell you. I’ll just leave you to mull over the perfectly succinct recap from the mouth of Jennifer Herrema, “They were awesome. Two or three songs in I was like, OK, they’re like an intelligent cheeseburger. After the fourth song I was like, whoa, there goes the intelligent part.”
Illustrator dude (check out his amazing Wild Yaks tee and the rad Pamela love tee that he drew and is wearing) Roy Miranda was really, really, really excited to meet Jennifer as were a lot of other folks since she was hanging during the other bands’ sets and, you know, she’s kind of a big deal. He was so excited that he asked me, a stranger at the time, to take a picture. I prefer this following picture of the awkward aftermath—he later told her to get weird, but I think this proves he beat her to it.
Back inside, Bosco Delray played.
There’s a trick to getting jazzed about Black Bananas: Listen to it for what it is instead of what it’s not. Black Bananas aren’t RTX just like RTX wasn’t Royal Trux. Jennifer Herrema and crew are amazing as ever but this is a different band with different songs. The vibe is similar but it’s not the same thing, the sound has simultaneously evolved and devolved, to a primal party beast. If you let your expectations go and flow with JJ and her crew you’re in for a real good time. That is assuming you’re into free-form stoner acid funk grooves delivered with a perfect snarl from one of the best front persons (male or female) of the past 25 years. If you’re not, let me know and we probably shouldn’t hang.
There was a lot of snakeskin on stage during Black Bananas. Brian McKinley has what may just be the silliest and best guitar that has ever existed.
There is a reason why JJ is a motherfucking style icon. Trends come and go, but her look has been consistent from day one. She lives and breaths rock and roll and I (along just about every other elegant dirtbag) owe her a huge debt of inspiration.
Jennifer spent about half of the set writhing around on the floor. The band played as a three-piece and there was a lot of empty stage that she made use of. It served her slithering fast-talk well.
Pardon my fan-out, Black Bananas isn’t just the Jennifer Herrema show. In addition to McKinley’s whammied-out shreds, Kurt Midness is also still in the mix. Look at his shirt! Wearing keys while on keys, Rad Times Express indeed.
Due to some technical difficulties the set was short and sweet. There were also some wardrobe difficulties when JJ’s foxtails decided to mutiny during the set.