It isn’t often that I get to see a band that I truly love. Much of this is my own doing, as I tend to favor bands that I’ll never see (The Doors) and artists that have effectively gone AWOL (David Bowie). To say I was excited to see Turbo Fruits play Mercury Lounge last Thursday would be an understatement—I’ve been looking forward to the lads' return to the city since I first heard them during June’s Northside Festival at the Knitting Factory. The wait was worth it.
The boys are on the road again in support of their latest release, Butter, produced by Jim Eno of Spoon. While it would have been easy to go with their better known barn-burners (the Fruits already have two other albums to their name), Jonas Stein and his band of devilish Southern gents stuck mostly to new material. They kicked things off with “Where the Stars Don’t Shine” and “Colt 45,” two of their hard-hitting and instantly hummable new tracks.
At the Northside performance, I was reminded of MC5 and Black Sabbath, but this set and their latest release further highlighted the Fruits' diversity and enviable ability to reference a wide variety of rock genres and icons. With a dash of Link Wray, a bit of Elvis, a pinch of Jack White, some sugary doo-wop and plenty of grungy Nashville swagger, the Fruits have concocted a juicy gumbo of pure Southern-rock goodness. While they make a brash statement, the band conveys earnestness as well, with all of Stein’s leaping splits and garbled thanks to the audience felt genuine and never forced.
The evening wasn’t without a few of the band's crowd-pleasing numbers. The audience immediately responded to the growling opening strains of “Volcano,” singing along with Stein every step of the way. Deer Tick’s Ian O’Neil even joined the Fruits on stage for the rousing refrain of “Mama’s Mad Cos I Fried My Brain.” It was all such a potenet reminder of how good new rock can be, especailly if it's coming from a place of true love and apprecition.
If you missed the Turbo Fruits this time around, they’ll be back for CMJ for the Panache Showcase at Public Assembly. Considering all the positive mentions from Rolling Stone, MTV, and Filter, I wouldn’t wait to get my tickets.