White Reaper hail from Louisville, KY and consist of singer/guitarist Tony Esposito, the Wilkerson twins Nick (drums) and Sam (bass), and keyboardist (and “bosstone” – he dances when there are no keyboard parts) Ryan Hater. The Polyvinyl Records website calls them “garage punk” and it is fitting; their new album, and first full length, White Reaper Does It Again, is a blast of 60s influenced, snarling but infectiously catchy rock n’ roll. The group played The Echoplex early this month with Feels and together PANGEA, the latter being the headliners, but I unfortunately had to leave early and missed them. I must admit to feeling a little old in that 20-something crowd, but both Feels and White Reaper were very good.
Feels are fronted by Laena Geronimo, daughter of Devo’s Alan Myers, and formerly of much poppier band The Like. Their set had a 90s alt-rock sound that was fun, with good vocals à la Veruca Salt. They don’t seem to have music online except for some videos on YouTube, but they are returning to The Echoplex on January 8th.
In the interim before White Reaper’s set, the club incongrously played hiphop, and keyboardist Hater amused the crowd by bopping around to it while setting up. Once the band started, the crowd wasted no time in exploding into a moshpit. It was possibly the most enthusiastic audience I’ve seen at The Echoplex, except maybe years ago at a CSS show. The energy is visible in the video above for “Pills”, one of my favorite tracks on the album.
It was impossible not to dance and sing along, especially to the exuberant chorus of “Sheila”, for example, or the short, crazy “Last 4th of July”. Esposito, who must’ve recently hacked off his hair, delivered his raucous vocals effortlessly, and the band was tight and polished, despite their raw sound. This is probably due to their being frequently on the road this year.
The record has that kind of immediate appeal that suggests it might wear out its welcome quickly, and yet it’s still doing the rounds in my car, especially when I need an energy boost. Be sure to check out the band live next time they’re in town.
Video by Juan Carlos Chaul on YouTube