Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Split Squad at the Bowery Electric

Clem Burke, Keith Streng, Michael Giblin
Lead vocalist/bassist Michael Giblin (Cherry Twister, Parallax Project) and guitarist Eddie Muñoz (the Plimsouls, Magic Christian) worked together sporadically in the 1990s and rekindled their friendship in the mid-2000s during a SXSW Festival. In 2011, Giblin befriended drummer Clem Burke (Blondie, Magic Christian) and guitarist Keith Streng (the Fleshtones) when their bands played a few shows together, and Streng and Giblin started talking about forming a new band. Muñoz and Burke agreed to join. Giblin later recruited keyboardist Josh Kantor, who played with him in the Baseball Project and who is also the organist in Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox. Many of the musicians were baseball fans, and so they took on the name the Split Squad, derived from Major League Baseball's spring training practice of teams splitting into two squads so both can play a game against another team on the same day. The Split Squad's sole album, Now Hear This..., was available for sale at the band's concerts in 2013 and was officially released on January 21, 2014.

After a near-three year silence during which the musicians played in their other bands, and with a pending EP promised for the near future, the Split Squad reassembled for a brief tour that included the Bowery Electric tonight. Each member came from a strong power pop band, and together they augmented each other's strengths for a mature and professional performance. The Split Squad played hefty garage rock and roll with 1960s-styled pop vocals. While Giblin was the front man for most of the performance, the alternating guitar leads by Muñoz and Streng, along with Kantor's subtle keyboard runs and Burke's mighty powerful drumming, made for a fully-rounded straight-forward rock and roll band. The Split Squad performed most of its debut album and introduced at least two songs from its forthcoming EP, Giblin's "Stop Me (If You've Heard This One Before)" and Streng's "Showstopper." The real showstopper, however, was the Split Squad's encore cover of the Plimsouls' "A Million Miles Away." Although still a side band for some of the musicians, the Split Squad rivaled many concert performances by their original bands.

Visit the Split Squad at