Every once in a while, a fiery young rock band comes along and gets me really excited. Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires are one of those bands, and their 2014 album Dereconstructed is a must-listen for lovers of gritty, thoughtful rock and roll. This past Friday, the band lit up New York City's Mercury Lounge with a high energy stage show.
This is a young band that knows how to rock out and please a crowd. Of course, a great concert is built around great songs, and Lee Bains has proven himself to be an excellent songwriter thus far in his career. As a guitar player, Bains knows how to craft a guitar riff with a melody and a hook. As a singer-songwriter, he knows how to tell stories with a lot of weight.
Through the concert, a wide range of styles and inspirations came through. The band combines so many things I love about rock music: The swagger of The Rolling Stones, the street intellectualism of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, the swamp boogie of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the guitar-slinging mentality of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Guns 'N Roses, and the straight-forward power of proto-punk groups like The Stooges and The Ramones. You could compare Lee Bains & The Glory Fires to modern southern rock bands like The Black Crowes and Drive-By Truckers, and there are certainly similarities, but this is a band that plays faster and louder than any of their contemporaries that I'm familiar with.
On stage, the chemistry between all 4 members of the band was undeniable. Drummer Blake Williamson was expert in pushing the groove, and his kit sounded great all night - especially during a couple moments when everything dropped out but the drums. His brother, bassist Adam Williamson, was pretty much flawless all night. Between the two of them, their tone and timing was truly exceptional; more rock bands should be this blessed to have such a phenomenal rhythmic backbone. The second guitar player, Eric Wallace, fit right in. Wallace's role in the band reminded me of Mick Taylor from The Rolling Stones or Poncho from Neil Young & Crazy Horse, as he added a great layer to the sound and locked in perfectly with the songs; he was exactly what you'd want from a sideman guitar player in a garage rock type of setting.
Rock and roll is a living, ever-changing thing. For my money, the best bands are the ones that build off tradition but aren't afraid to do their own thing. That's exactly what you get with Lee Bains.
Sure, "Lee Bains The Third and the Glory Fires" is a mouthful to say, but this isn't just rock music. This is art.
All photos by Francesco Marano