Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Sonics at Irving Plaza

Rob Lind & Larry Parypa
In 1960, Larry Parypa, a teen-ager with a cheap guitar in Tacoma, Washington, started making music with his brother on saxophone, his mother occasionally on guitar or bass and later another brother on bass. Drawing to the ensemble vocalist/keyboardist Gerry Roslie and saxophone player Rob Lind in 1964, the garage-rocking Sonics started performing in local venues. Despite a strong local following, several singles and albums failed to get significant radio play, and after many personnel changes, the band fractured by 1968. The original Sonics reunited briefly in 1972 for a live show at Seattle's Paramount Theater, released as Live Fanz Only. In 1980, a new Sonics fronted by Roslie recorded the album Sinderella, which revisited the original band's material. In 2007, Roslie, Parypa, and Lind reformed as the Sonics with a new rhythm section for the Cavestomp garage rock festival in Brooklyn, the band's first-ever New York performance. The Sonics in 2010 released 8, an EP featuring both live cuts and four new songs. This Is the Sonics, the band's first album of new material in 48 years, was released on March 31, 2015.

History came alive when the Sonics headlined Irving Plaza tonight. Roslie, Parypa, and Lind, with bassist Freddie Dennis and drummer Dusty Watson, walked on in black suits, white shirts and black ties. It was not long before they worked up a sweat. They quickly demonstrated how their raw, aggressive rock and roll band developed a cult following and became a major influence on punk, garage, and grunge music. This upgraded Sonics line-up was even more raucous and hard-edged than the original band, however. From the opening song, "Psycho," one of the first songs the Sonics ever recorded, the compositions built on simple chord sequences played harder and faster than ever. Roslie, Parypa and Dennis took turns singing lead on seven new songs, several vintage cover songs including Little Richard's "Keep a Knockin'", Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)" and Richard Berry's "Louie Louie" and original signature songs including "Strychnine" and "The Witch." The set list was rooted in the 1950s and 1960s, but the torrid power they unleashed was pure, unbridled and timeless rock and roll mayhem. The Sonics brought back the boom, ready to teach a new generation of garage rockers how it all began.

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