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BRAND NEW SINat House of Blues, May 20

I‘ve been to Syracuse, New York, home of Brand New Sin, just once. It was late, it was hot, and I was lost. The only soul stirring was a fat guy on a porch with his shirt off and his brows knit. Fuck directions; I drove right by. He looked like he’d kick my ass just to flex his feet. And he looked just like these guys.

Mainly like voxman Joe Altier. His shaved skull and goatee accentuated his attitude: chin always stuck out, daring you to hit it. No shirt, big beer gut hanging out of a ratty denim vest as he bellowed his note-perfect warnings “about what‘s goin’ down and what‘s gonna happen,” as the band’s “My World” puts it. While they were setting up, guitarist Slider, built like a boulder, brought two beers up and put them down by his amp, gesturing to group and crew, like, you know what happens if these get spilled. They didn‘t. He and Altier were the fulcrum of a front line that included three other hairy, tattooed bad-asses: guitarists Kris Wiechmann and Ken Dunham, bassist Chuck Kahl. Drummer Mike Rafferty was the only one who looked as young as he was (or as if he was ever young).

They played like a commando unit on a mission. Guitarists who didn’t even have mics were yelling the words anyway while soloing doomfully, punching together with devastating precision or trading riffs for a huge, roiling sound. Their material, from the highly recommendable Brand New Sin (Now or Never), is chock-full of hooks, and I mean meat hooks, not buttonhooks. Distant influences: Skynyrd (melodically) and Danzig (some riffs and words). This was an inspiring show. Whatever these men were pissed off at, I want to be pissed off at it, too.

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