Written By: Andy Sweat (Angry Staffer)
Photos By: Jeremy Ross
See all of Jeremy’s photos of Locksley here.
All the bad signs were in place, and the worst sign of all: a Tuesday night at the 36-year-old Roxy club. Throughout history, Tuesday night bands have been notorious for being utter crap. In a baseball starting lineup, a Tuesday band is usually equivalent to the batter right before the pitcher. Dan Fogelberg and Hoobastank were notorious for playing on Tuesdays and hitting eighth; though most likely those two should have just been sent to the minors (excuse me for the baseball analogy – lately I’ve had LA baseball fever on the brain).
So seeing a band on a Tuesday night had me a bit worried. The fact that it was at the Roxy also made my stomach churn for fear of being the oldest person at the club (and yes… I’m 24). BUT! I promised myself to put all that shit behind me and bring some integrity and objectivity to this review. I went with an open mind (and a stomach full of Valium just in case).
Locksley is a band that hails from Wisconsin. But like all indie rock bands must do, and any band from the Midwest, they picked up and moved to Brooklyn. Locksley did, and they’ve been playing modern indie throw-back twists on the sound of the British Invasion, full of hip-shaking jingles and hooks ever since.
Locksley has been around and has been received well for a little while now. Back in 2006, they received praise from Rolling Stone Magazine who “anointed” them one of the top 25 bands of MySpace for that year. I’m not sure what that even means and, in all honesty, how can you trust or deem a publication credible when they have Peter Travers on staff (does that guy ever NOT like anything?). Nonetheless, Locksley isn’t a fresh band without any guns to back them up.
Wikipedia is a wet dream for someone looking for dirt to dish about. Wikipedia cites that the band has had many difficulties and hardships: “The 14 hour trip from Wisconsin took them 46 hours, [ending] with their trailer coming off on the New Jersey turnpike. They were then evicted from their first apartment due to the noise they were making while practising.” I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that, in both instances, the hardships MIGHT’ve been your fault, Locksley. Did you hitch the trailer correctly? Did you play loud music in a building full of 9to5 working neighbors? Yeah…
I mention these things because all of this made me very skeptical of Locksley (the band, Blueskyreality, that played before before them made me even more suicidal: think Maroon 5 meets Bros with guitars).
Locksley came on stage with lead singer (Jesse Laz) dressed in hip clean Gap bought jeans while the bassist (brother, Jordan Laz) sported a tiny Hot Topic leather jacket. They cooked and jammed, bounced around, spat water into the air, and were very into singing into the same microphone as if they were centimeters away from kissing each other (see picture). I have to admit, a few of these things came off as showy without it being cool, nor having a real sense of purpose, for it didn’t feel like these antics should coincide with the music that was being played.
I popped another Valium and dismissed these things. All is calm.
As they played, I started to really think: the band has got some solid goods. They have the Hives guitar garage sound mixed with Kings of Leon melody. It’s very reminiscent of a Strokes-y vibe with a 60’s sense of rockabilly to their sound. I could have even sworn I heard a little bit of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy with Locksley’s frequent harmonizing vocals and swing in their song (and step). Whatever it was – they certainly had the crowd into it and they never let go.
Actually, to say the crowd was more than into it would be an understatement. They ate this shit up like they were a mouse finding some Kraft cheese. And… it was actually rather refreshing to see a crowd dance to a show instead of the usual head-nodding that occurs at eye-rolling hipster concerts. Then again, the crowd was made up of 17-year-old kids and a few loose cougar soccer moms on the prowl mixed in between.
I’m not going to sugar coat them or stroke their knobs. Locksley is simply a middle-of-the-road type of band. Nothing great. Nothing bad. Just fine. And, to be honest, they actually made for a nice, safe, pleasant time out that was fairly enjoyable for what could have otherwise been a complete waste of time.
Locksley has done a nice job of capturing the pop garage sound and blending it with influences of rock classics such as the Kinks or the Hollies.
A standout moment was a new song, “21st Century.” The song is a smooth ride along the Pacific Coast. You look to your left and your best bud is there. You look to your right and you got your girl’s hair whipping in the wind. And you’re content… at 17 years old. It doesn’t get any better. Nothing more complicated or requiring much complex thought. And that’s the way you like it in the summer of your 17th year. Locksley nails this feeling with this new track.
Another nice moment was the Modest Mouse cover of “Float On.” It might’ve been nostalgia or the remembrance of how popular that song was back in ’03-’04 that made me really enjoy this cover. To be frank, Locksley’s cover was nothing original or brilliant. And that was the beauty of it. Sometimes it’s really nice to hear a cover that isn’t trying to be more inventive than the original. They did a nice homage to a band I’m sure they admire.
I also enjoyed the song “Cheaters” as the band attempted to show us some of their punk inspired roots. Laz’s vocals and the bands rhythmic teetering back and forth reminded me of the White Stripes song “Black Math.” It was a nice change of pace.
Locksley is the type of band that parents get into and believe to be modern and hip so they decide to stuff their teenage daughter’s stocking with their album come Christmas time. And, for the most part, the second half is dead on and would delight the faces of many teenage daughters.
The first part, well, is what Locksley needs to work on. Then again – who the fuck cares. Nothing is wrong about being safe, decent, and having the ability to create an enjoyable nice live show. BUT, if they aspire to be modern, inventive, and original… Locksley has some rethinking to do.
I think it goes a long way to say that a band isn’t terrible or amazing yet simply OK and be fine with it. A slacker such as myself can appreciate the acceptance of that middle ground.
Overall, if Locksley is happy. We are happy. And everyone is OK with that.
View all of Jeremy’s photos here.