Despite the small crowd this past Saturday at Knitting Factory, the talented trio of bands on the bill worked hard to win over the lackluster audience. New York’s own sweaty rock lords, Reckless Sons, took to the stage first and pounded through a set of good, no-frills classic rock, in the vein or Aerosmith and Guns n’ Roses. Thundering, fast, and structurally accomplished, every song felt more exciting and thrilling than the last, particularly when the boys let loose with a tornado of stage antics. Frontman Matt Butler had all the unbridled charisma of a young Bruce Springsteen, while guitarist Matt Hogan wailed with the feverish alacrity of Slash. Somehow, the boys even managed to make a cover of Fine Young Cannibal’s “She Drives Me Crazy” sound sexy.
I had high hopes for Florida’s Thomas Wynn and the Believers, having seen them play Mercury Lounge this past March. They did not disappoint: songs like “I Don’t Regret” and “You Can’t Hurt Me” confirmed Wynn’s gifts not only as a guitarist and vocalist, but also as a writer. Dripping with the sort of emotional intensity that only comes with hard experience, each lyric felt honest and raw in a way that so few things do these days. At one point, my (also Southern) roommate turned to me and said, “This sounds like home.” I smiled and nodded as Chris Bell wove a dream of a harmonica solo that hung heavy in the steamy night.
Reserved for Rondee closed on a high note, with the in-your-face energy that most bands only hope to achieve. Despite the fact that the group only formed in November 2010, they’ve created a pure, indie rock sound that honors upbeat bands like Arcade Fire while blazing new paths. "City" was a perfect example: familiar in its chord progressions, but with an experimental edge. It also proved an exceptional vehicle for Trevor Vaughn's Thom Yorke-like vocal (and stage) stylings. Their whirlwind of a set was the ideal way to end the rocking night.