Friday, December 12, 2014

The Figgs at the Bowery Electric

Mike Gent & Pete Donnelly in the audience
High school friends Mike Gent (guitar), Pete Donnelly (bass), and Guy Lyons (drums) formed the garage pop Figgs (originally the Sonic Undertones) in 1987 in Saratoga Springs, New York. Lyons temporarily left the band in 1989 and was replaced by Pete Hayes. Lyons returned in 1992, this time on lead guitar, to make the band a quartet, but left the band again in 1997. The remaining three Figgs forged on, recording nine albums and backing both Graham Parker and Tommy Stinson of the Replacements. The three band members now live in Boston (Gent), New York (Hayes) and Philadelphia (Donnelly), touring and recording only sporadically. The Figgs most recent album release is 2014's limited edition Badger LP, an expanded reissue of the earlier Badger six-song EP.

At the Bowery Electric tonight, the Figgs performed 29 songs in two sets. The band opened with three songs from its most recent album, "Three Times a Riff", "Smoking a Lot" and "Gone to Seed." In case anyone missed the Figgs' fondness for 1960s British Invasion songs, the band wore its influences well, covering the Kinks' "Where Have All the Good Times Gone" and the Who's "Christmas." A specialty in light-hearted  lyrics also became obvious with "Who's Your Mother Out With Tonight?", "Low Fi at Society High", "Favorite Shirt" and "Cherry Blow Pop." The soft melodies and sweet harmonies were backed by a rocking, stomping energy, but the set was less a display of amazing musicianship than it was a tribute to early pop sounds. Maybe it is this cheerful, upbeat center that has kept the Figgs endearing and enduring all these 27 years.

Visit the Figgs at