THE SMITH WESTERNS @ The Mercury Lounge (NYC) (4/4/10)


THE SMITH WESTERNS @ The Mercury Lounge (NYC) (4/4/10)


THE SMITH WESTERNS are the realest. Holy shit man. By far the best underage band in America. These guys from Chicago are such babies SURFER BLOOD could pass as their Dads. TSW is the most authentically 60s Lo-fi garage pop in the scene right now. They’re stained all over the place with the 60s. It’s obvious in their super outstanding debut self-titled LP and as evident, if not more, in their live act. Fuck, even GIRLS‘ bassist Chet White was up in the front row, stomach pressed against the stage, slapping it, dancing and singing every single word. I mean, there were only like 40 people there. Two of them were the dudes from GIRLS and White was clearly the biggest TSW fan in the house. He’s just got some of that good great taste is all.

Just one night after White was strumming his bass in front of over a thousand loyal GIRLS fans at Webster Hall, here he played a very different role; that of the senior in the movement, rooting these 19 year-olds on, supporting them, singing every word, showing them how important they are, how they have legit fans at the top of the scene in White and in other GIRLS-half Christopher Owens, who wasn’t far behind White and was the first to crawl onstage after the show to talk with TSW frontman Cullen Omori. Omori is as much a star as any frontman, including enigmatic GIRLS guy Owens. He’s sassy and on pitch, and he emanates vintage.

And lead guitarist Max Kakacek is the clear backbone of the band, owning the guitar lines, even stepping back a few feet to get into an upward pointing dramatic light beam, which caused his huge belt buckle to shine and his big-emblemed Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt to make everyone jealous. This band is so good. Sucks that there was a real weak turnout. It was kinda sad, but it was Easter. And the sparseness of the crowd actually made more surreal the outpouring of support shown by the 800-pound elephants in the room, White and Owens of GIRLS. Totally understandable, TSW are one of the most impressive, authentic and important rock bands anywhere right now. Their debut LP was stunning and their live act was equally as exciting. TSW should have as much media coverage as any other band.

The boys debuted a new song, and it’s promising and comforting to see that even over a year removed from their first material, the band maintains its matter-of-fact, everyman feeling in their lyrics. The new material starts out with Omori singing, “I should have realized life’s such a trip.” It’s that cool, free wheelin’ laugh-it-off feel that just spews from TSW’s work. And unlike some shows, there’s really no highpoint here (unless you count White playing the part of super-fan, which is truly awesome cuz that’s exactly what White clearly is), because the whole 40-minutes or so was amazing. Just as with the exceptional self-titled debut LP, every song TSW dropped on The Mercury Lounge was perfect. Tonight and Be My Girl were great, TSW delivered on it all. It’s such a shame this amazing performance fell on such a small crowd. But the crowd was a great one. Especially in light of the unlikeliest Backstage Betties, GIRLS.

by: Brad Horenstein

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