The Sammies come to Somerville

A review of The Sammies at PA’s Lounge on July 12

, Staff Writer

The Sammies are what my college band should have been. Even better, they’re what the Kings of Leon should have been when everyone was calling them the “Southern-fried Strokes.” Plain and simple, The Sammies are a good band, and are shaping up to be an even better one when you take into account all the new material they played at PA’s Lounge.

Hailing from North Carolina, The Sammies released their self-titled debut (produced by heavyweight John Agnello) last year and are currently working on building a following outside of their southern comfort zone. Their songs, uptempo post-punk rockers, have gained national exposure in movies (Employee of the Month, Happily Never After) and television (“Friday Night Lights,” “Las Vegas,” “Wildfire”).

Their show at PA’s began with two new songs buoyed by bassist Gymmy Thunderbird’s bouncing lines, sounding more Albert Hammond Jr. solo than full-out The Strokes. Drummer Donnie Yale sang backup while pounding away on his kit as singer and guitar player Frank Backgammon, looking like a cross between Jack White and Billie Joe Armstrong, led the way.

The jam-session “White Blotter” allowed the band to demonstrate their chops and versatility, starting out like Bloc Party’s “Helicopter” and journeying through a half-time guitar romp to a full fledged guitar burn out. The band’s song structure is very similar to old Metallica in that the songs are based around a straight verse-chorus-verse-chorus template before a bridge that departs into more of a group solo. The approach did not grate or become boring, as each break took fresh, interesting rhythmic or melodic turns.

“Caretaker,” from the debut album, had a dirty dancehall feel, thanks to Yale’s hi-hat, but it was the new material that stood out. “Treat Her Like a Queen All the Time” was a delightful mashup of “Helter Skelter” and “Icky Thump” that I wish would be recorded and released immediately. The band also delved into cover tune territory, playing a version of “You Really Got Me” that was all Kinks and no Van Halen.

The band ended the night in perfect fashion, with another great new song with an even better title, “Boy Georgia,” which again featured a choppy, American Bloc Party sound. Show closer “Train Wreck” was fittingly epic, with Yale shrieking “Yea Baby” echoes behind his brother Backgammon’s vocals as the band built up to a perfect combination of the Southern Rock guitar jamboree of “Freebird” and the meltdown thrash destruction of The Who.

As the band left the stage amidst a pile of guitars, amps, drum equipment, and empty beer bottles, it was clear that The Sammies have it. Man, I wish I was in a band like that one.

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