‘Downtown Rocks’ delivers solid music despite poor promotion

Mike Justice, lead singer and guitatarist for Oh MyLanta, performs at the Downtown Rocks showcase on Friday night at LaSalles. Photo credit: George Johnston

There’s something to be said for blindly attending an obscure music event at a bar with a checkered reputation.

Even though LaSalles’ name is stained with a shooting that occurred in 2011 — and maybe the horrendous restrooms and sticky bar tops, also — it hasn’t kept the place from trying to draw attention to the eclectic local music scene.

The concept of the ill-promoted “Downtown Rocks 3” was about bringing together four different bands with varying styles for one night of diverse rock ‘n’ roll entertainment. It’s safe to say that the idea was successfully executed.

Band number one was Oh MyLanta. What a fun three-piece. It was smart to kick off the show with a high-energy, alternative band that got people bobbing their heads as soon as they entered the door.

The (sparse but growing) crowd moving in unison to the band’s experimental Jet/Arctic Monkeys/Strokes-like vibe was almost as engaging to watch as the lead singer, Mike Justice, and his white-boy Afro bounce around on stage. Being a newer band on the scene, the group has their work cut out for them but have potential. Keep an eye and ear out for these guys.

Band number two was DeVoll. Sometimes it’s hard not to judge a book by its cover. Especially, when the book is an alt-pop rock band with all of its five members looking like they reside in completely separate genres.

The bassist looked like he belonged in a ska band, the keyboardist an indie band, the drummer in something hipster, the lead guitarist a garage band (but the man can riff, that’s for sure) and the lead singer looked like he just got done playing a wedding with his vest and button-up shirt. There was just no image continuity whatsoever.

All that being said, maybe mixing it up does a band good because they turned out to be very in sync and, honestly, surprising. The band’s namesake and singer, Tyler DeVoll, has a R&B/rock voice that was not expected to be heard at all. Give (an alive) Michael Jackson a guitar, stick him in a rock band and the world would have DeVoll. Just lose the vest, Tyler.

Band number three was Gun Metal Graay. It was an unusual decision to throw a metal band in the middle of an alternative playlist, but it kind of worked in this case. With such a drastic change in tempo and atmosphere, those in the crowd who weren’t digging the first two bands seemed to get into the hard Pantera/Metallica-inspired act.

The group performed a decent metal set and should have gotten more love — and maybe that encore the lead singer was hoping for. This was the part of the night where a mosh pit would have fit in nicely, but for some weird reason it happened during DeVoll’s set instead.

Band number four was Bull Moose Party. By the end of the night, people were really drunk and the venue was emptying, so this eerily soulful and entrancing band really didn’t get the appreciative audience it deserved, and it possibly contributed to its lackluster performance.

Not that they sounded terrible — they didn’t. But the energy wasn’t there, and it seemed like they were just going through the motions. This being one of the band’s last few shows for a while (it is going on hiatus), it was a little disappointing that it wasn’t very memorable.

Though this event didn’t receive the promotion that it needed and deserved — especially for being a third installment — it was a nice stumbled-upon discovery and overall worth getting searched at the door and branded with a blue ink stamp that only comes off with steel wool and battery acid.

Amanda Rhine can be reached at [email protected] or @am_rhine on Twitter.