The Sonics Prove They’ve Still Got It: Live Review

The_Sonics_061415-6The Sonics are not a reunion band. Yes, since 2007 they’ve been periodically reunited for tours. And yes, they recently released their first album of new original material in 49 years. But the phrase “reunion band” sticks to the roof of your mouth like old peanut butter. It describes a washed out band going through the motions, in it for the payout or trying unsuccessfully to capture the fleeting moments of joy years in the past. No, the Sonics are not a reunion band. They may be back, but they never lost what they had.

The_Sonics_061415-14These progenitors of garage and punk have returned with a mission. From the first song of their set at Red 7 last Sunday, all five members played with intensity, as the band moved between new material (from their newly released album This is the Sonics) and old hits like “Psycho,” “The Witch,” and “Strychnine.” Dusty Watson played like a madman on the skins, Jerry Roslie still has his piercing snarl, Larry Parypa’s riffs were spot on, and Rob Lind narrated the evening with aplomb while providing trademark sax.

The_Sonics_061415-18New songs like “Bad Betty” and “I Don’t Need No Doctor” lack a little bit of the sonic boom of the band’s early recordings, but they’re damn close. It’s astounding to watch a band come back 50 years after they pioneered a genre and still perform it better than most like-minded acts in the game. The Sonics’ blend of blues, rock, garage, and what-would-become-punk sounds as fresh as it ever did.

The_Sonics_061415-11Though the show hadn’t sold out as of doors, the venue reached capacity by the time the revered Northwest rockers took the stage, and the crowd stayed fervent throughout the performance. “The Witch” even induced a mosh pit of fans ranging from age 21 to age 71, an occurrence both surprising and simultaneously reasonable. I went to the show expecting to have a little fun hearing these classic garage rock songs, but left completely blown away by the Sonics intact ability to shred an audience. If they come through your town, don’t miss them.

All photographs © Bryan C. Parker & Pop Press International; all rights reserved. Click any image to open set in slideshow viewer.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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