Some acts are hard to follow. Especially acts that end the set with a four-part a cappella rendition of the snap-inducing Billy Joel classic “For the Longest Time.” Throw in a successful marriage proposal before the cheering crowd — as was the case during Don Duke Meets the Queen's debut performance at The Get Down — and you’ve got one hell of a challenge on your hands.
Needless to say, spirits (and expectations) were high as The Critters appeared beneath the tiger wall-hanging that adorns The Get Down’s stage. But if any band were up to the task this frigid evening, it was the Critters.
Wasting no time with niceties, the band leaped into its rowdy set, opening with a choppy punk number that had the room leaping and swaying before the smokers outside could funnel in from the bar’s crowded patio. From there, it was a fury of what can only be categorized as eclectic rock. The band barreled through a crowd-pleasing hour that touched on blues-infused psychedelia, angsty post-punk, poppy garage rock and even some Weezer-inspired indie. But whatever the genre, the increasingly tight (and sweaty) crowd responded with adoration and enthusiasm, singing the hooks between songs and waiting with open arms for whatever was to come next.
In an impressive display of well-roundedness, the band made a habit of swapping instruments throughout the set, trading guitars for bass, drums for guitars, bass for drums and … well, you get the idea. Drummer Josh Martier — donning a T-shirt with a wolf, waterfall, rainbow and Native American woman (perhaps the busiest and most awesome shirt this reporter has seen) — channeled his inner Levon Helm, handling a hefty chunk of lead vocal duties from behind the kit and splitting frontman duties with guitarist Harry Harrison. But, not to be outdone, bassist Tom Peters and guitarist Jesse Myers also lent a hand, taking over the occasional lead vocal and chiming in on the sometimes dissonant, often rich backing harmonies.
While it was difficult to make out lyrics over the fuzzy P.A. — which The Critters had pushed to its sonic limits — judging from the rest of the experience, it’s fair to assume they were clever, playful and whole lotta fun.
"Up next, we're going to play 'Oxygen' and 'Gee Golly,'" said Harrison nearing the end of the set. Then, acknowledging his unusual phrasing, "That's right, we're going to play two songs next."
By this point, it was apparent that a large portion of the crowd — now singing along with the band in unison — was well versed in the Critters’ antics. Though relatively new on the scene, this band has already become a local staple. And why not? Anyone who likes rock 'n’ roll and having a good time is going to love the Critters.
— Find out more at facebook.com/TheCritters.