“Thanks for coming back, guys. We had so much fun last time we were in Albany, we asked specifically for Albany to be put on the calendar this time. Could you give Fred more in his monitor? The deaf guy would appreciate it.”
Those were the opening words by bassist Toody Cole of Pierced Arrows, who recently played Valentine’s Music Hall for the second time in seven months. Prior to that, the Oregon garage rock trio were relative strangers to Nippertown, not having appeared here at all since forming in 2007 from the ashes of Dead Moon – the long-running garage-punk outfit started by Toody and her husband Fred Cole in 1987 and disbanded in 2006.
(Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t find anyone who recalls Dead Moon playing around here during their almost-20-year tenure, either.)
Thankfully, the Coles have since made up for lost time, bolstered by their show at Valentine’s back in March, when a crowd of young, boisterous punk fans came out to bask in the band’s raw energy and decades of distilled rock and roll experience.
The history of Albany rock is littered with stories of great bands who came to play in front of virtually nobody, so it’s refreshing that the Coles’ two appearances here have been worthy of their pedigree and unflagging spirit – well-attended (for a weeknight) gigs with enthusiastic fans hugging the stage.
At both shows, the band barely paused from one song to the next as they bashed out sets drawn from their two albums – 2008’s “Straight to the Heart” and this year’s “Descending Shadows.” And both nights they closed with an encore featuring the Dead Moon song “It’s OK” – a rare nod to the past. (At this month’s Valentine’s show, they also added Dead Moon’s “54/40 or Fight” as a capper.)
Wild-eyed drummer Kelly Halliburton, with “Spinal Tap” hair and a belt made of bullets, played in between Fred and Toody, his drum set perched on the edge of the stage as he bashed out a primitive caveman beat. Toody – wearing her trademark red cowboy shirt – aggressively stepped to the mike when it was her turn to take the vocal lead. And Fred, though he seemed like a sweetheart offstage, cut an intimidating figure on – with his black cowboy hat, wild mane of hair and dark, menacing songs.
His hearing may be going, and his voice was a ragged howl, but Fred Cole could be heard telling a fan before the show this time that his band was in the midst of playing 25 shows in 27 days – covering a total of 8,000 miles.
He wasn’t complaining. Stamina seems to be a Cole thing. Fred and Toody have been married for more than 40 years, playing in bands together much of that time. There’s a great story recounted online about how when Fred Cole turned 60, the rocker couple decided to run the Portland Marathon. According to the story, they finished it, went home and got drunk, slept for 24 hours, and then went back out on tour. Badass.
Three great local bands opened up for Pierced Arrows at Valentine’s this time. Keep an eye out for Bourbon Scum, a four piece of young punks from the Catskills. Aside from the cool band name, their riff-ready rock – part junkie-punk, ala the Heartbreakers and part pop-punk, ala the Exploding Hearts – was highly enjoyable.
Knyghts of Fuzz, a garage trio featuring Ian Carlton (Rocky Velvet) on guitar, Brian Goodman (1313 Mockingbird Lane, Susan & the Surftones) on drums and Big Frank (Big Frank & the Bargain Bingers) on bass, sounded better than ever, putting the party back in party band with a set of well-curated and revved-up, old-school, garage rock tunes.
And Albany punksters Nuclear Family – who also opened for Pierced Arrows back in March – were also in the lineup here, playing what was billed as their last local show (now it seems to be their next to last) before going on tour and then taking an indefinite hiatus. That’s too bad, because they were great on tracks like “Safety Net,” the singer spending the whole set offstage, jittering across the club’s black and white checkered floor.
Review by Kirsten Ferguson
PIERCED ARROWS SET LIST
Guns of Thunder
Let It Rain
Hills on Fire
This Is the Day
Zip My Lip
On the Move
54/40 or Fight