LIVE: Los Straitjackets @ the Hangar on the Hudson, 8/22/17
Review and photographs by Ed Conway
What kind of excitement happens on a stormy Tuesday night? Well, if you were in Troy last week, you could have been treated to a night of high octane instrumental surf music, as Greater Nippertown’s famous native son Eddie Angel returned home, and brought along the rest of his band, Los Straitjackets, for their Hangar on the Hudson debut.
Los Straitjackets took a little time off from their tour with Marshall Crenshaw and stepped out into the spotlight that the masked wonders so richly deserve. Since there was no opener, they were able to put in an extended set, with a couple of surprise guests. While it’s fun to see them in different settings – I have seen them with both Nick Lowe and Crenshaw – they are outstanding on their own, making them highly sought after for festivals around the world.
If you haven’t seen this quartet before, they wear personalized lucha libre masks, matching outfits and nearly identical, gold-speckled DiPinto guitars. And continuing in Mexican culture mode, Angel makes introductions between songs in Spanish.
Right out of the gate at The Hangar, LSJ showed they were in a mood to play as they started with “Pacifica,” and in rapid fashion followed with “Casbah” and “Kawanga,” some of their best known songs, before slowing it down a bit with guitarist Greg Townson’s (El Gregorio Grande) instrumental version of Sam Cooke’s classic, “You Send Me.” The jam-packed, near-capacity crowd instantly fell into the spirit as they gave a wild reception for each song.
The rhythm was held down solidly by bassist Pete Curry (Mr. Pete) and drummer Chris Sprague (Gringo Starr). As usual, Sprague stepped out from behind the drums to give a dance performance at the front of the stage while Curry beat out the rhythm on a tom-tom, and, as usual, the crowd showed their love.
Rounding out the night with their encores, Los Straitjackets brought out their guest performers. First up was local favorite Johnny Rabb, a longtime friend and frequent bandmate (when the Neanderthals get together) of Angel. Next up was local, lovable lounge lizard Ritz Carlton, and if you haven’t seen him before, he is the personification of love (at least that’s what his press would lead you to believe).
It was great to see such a large crowd at The Hangar, especially on a school night. All-in-all, it was a fantastic night of music. It is easy to see why Los Straitjackets are in such high demand.