With the site having been launched for a few weeks now, it seemed like a good time to start getting out a little more and what better way to do so than to follow my own advice and check out yesterday's best bet, The Vibrators at Island Bar & Grill.
Now I have been to the Island Bar plenty of times — probably too many times when you factor in my first year in Myrtle Beach — but had never seen a show there until last night. Maybe it was the fact that they always had the same band, Psych Ward, playing there almost every night or maybe I just wasn't as hip then.
But whatever the reason, this was my first time in quite awhile out among what I like to think of as "The heart of the Myrtle Beach music scene." Whether you call them scene kids, hipsters, punks or any of 100 other things, these folks are the awesomely dedicated fans and musicians which keep our sleepy little beach town up late at night rockin' out to their loud, in-your-face music.
Now I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a little out of place in the crowd of 50-100 folks who all seemed to know each other and were paired off chatting between sets, having drinks and smoking cigarettes — alot of cigarettes. But despite some initial trepidation, it quickly became evident that most of these folks were very cool and more than willing to chat up a stranger who was interested in hearing more about their love of music.
I arrived what I though was appropriately late, around 11:30 for the 10 p.m., and was a bit bummed to see that I had already missed a couple bands, including the outlandish glam punk outfit The Wet Teens. But whatever disappointment I had faded away quickly as Sharklegs took the stage.
As singer Eddy Shanks took the stage — really just the floor in a large corner of the small bar — swearing at his bandmates and joking with the crowd, I was already sold that this was going to be a good time.
After thrashing a high-octane opening tune, Eddy explained that a friend, Sean, was filling in on guitar since the band's normal guitarist, Ryan, had moved back to drums (apparently there was some "differences" with the previous drummer.)
But even having not played with this configuration since New Year's, it didn't seem as though the band was the least bit rusty as the grooved their way through an intense set that included plenty of crowd favorites (nearly everyone was singing along) and even a track I knew from my previous run-in with the band called "Sidewalk Dave." Each track was a similar blend of fast-paced metal and rock, with lots of great sing-songy hooks to keep the crowd engaged throughout.
The band's stage prescence was that of a group of seasoned performers. Guitarist Jamie D'Lux flailed about with his guitar and bummed cigarettes from crowd members while playing. Shanks told bad jokes and swilled and sprayed beer into the crowd. At one point the had a guest bassist sit in for "a song about dragons" and even he looked completely at home among his fellow players.
Overall, what seemed like just another Tuesday night show to the band, came off as much more than that to a new fan.
But even as good as Sharklegs was, Shanks summed up the real purpose of the evening saying "The only reason I came to play tonight was so I could see The Vibrators for free."
Just after midnight, punk pioneers The Vibrators took the stage with a 3-man lineup , Knox, Pete and Eddie. Looking every bit the seasoned veterans of the road that they are, they got up and pumped through a set filled with songs that were simple in structure but carried a sort of complexity that could only come from trying to find new ways to play after years of practicing the same tracks.
Drummer "Eddie" Edwards bantered with the crowd between songs in a pleasant British accent ("Where the hell are we? Is this Myrtle Beach?") but most of what was played was a bit of a blur of driving guitars and grungy lyrics pierced ocassionally by a chorus cry of "I Need a Slave!" or another of the band's many proclamations.
I guess what I'm saying is that while I appreciated the professionalism of these vets to put on a nice show and still rock out after all these years, for folks who weren't already fans of The Vibrators, the show may have been a bit hard to follow. Still, there was a certain familiarity to all the songs that made them palatable enough for any casual punk fan.
Overall, the show was interesting and enjoyable and although you wouldn't suspect it from looking at the facade — nestled into a corner near the Food Lion on Glenns Bay Road — The Island Bar was actually a great place to catch a band in a very intimate, up-close-and-personal setting.
The bar will host another show Sunday with local act Rabble N Rebellion opening for punk/rockabilly act Koffin Kats. Check Islandbarandgrill.com for a list of their upcoming shows.