Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Airbourne at the Gramercy Theatre

Joel O'Keeffe
In Warrnambool, a small Victorian country town on the southwestern coast of Australia, an 11-year-old Joel O'Keeffe was singing and learning to play guitar. Shortly afterwards, his younger brother, Ryan O'Keeffe, got his first drum kit. A few years later, Joel met David Roads when the two worked at a local hotel. The two brought their guitars to work and, after their shifts, jammed on song ideas. The O’Keeffe brothers invited Roads to join their rehearsals at their house. Adding a bassist, the quartet became the hard rocking Airbourne in 2003; Justin Street replaced the original bassist early on. In 2004 the four-piece won a statewide band competition in Melbourne, Australia. The band relocated to Melbourne in 2005, and to the United States in 2008. Airborne released its fourth studio album, Breakin' Outta Hell, on September 23, 2016.

At the Gramercy Theatre tonight, Airbourne stripped down their hard rock to its basic parts: a flashy, bare-chested, throaty vocalist, hardy party lyrics, and fist-pumping rock and roll anthems. What could go wrong? What could go wrong would be the obvious and inescapable comparisons to AC/DC. Airbourne's music sounded all too close to that of their fellow Australians. Nevertheless, Airbourne's sound also recalled other rocking bands like Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Status Quo and another Australian band, Rose Tattoo. None of those bands were around tonight, so the audience enjoyed a formidable concert by a potent up-and-comer underdog, Airbourne. Airbourne took the stage with high energy fury and a good-time vibe, roaring through head-bangers with a sharp bite and a rock and roll fury. Fun? During the concert, Joel opened beer cans by repeatedly hitting them against his head. Towards the end of the performance, he played guitar on top of the bar in the center of the theater, then hopped down and poured himself a draft beer before returning to the stage. Both in sight and sound, Airbourne embodied a most compelling rock and roll spirit.

Visit Airbourne at