Ankle Grease/The Baker’s Basement/Ryan McCarthy
(Hive Mind – Akron, OH. – June 29, 2017)
“When in doubt, party out”
The Magic City’s Ryan McCarthy took the stage at 8:15 to start the show. Clad in a Mr. Rogers tee-shirt, maroon jeans and matching Chuck Taylor sneakers, McCarthy breezed through a sharp set of acoustic rock. The topics he covered ranged from the curious (dogs and robots) to the personal (a light-hearted take on a physical condition for which he deals).
“Room 239” is about the time he spent in college. He presciently points out in another song that Barberton’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival is a “trash-fest.” (I mean, hell, he’s not wrong.) McCarthy’s approach to songwriting is both honest and funny. Despite his shy stage presence, his punchlines are continually clever and unexpected. He is clearly very talented.
“If You’ve Never Thrown A Molotov, Give It A Try”
Up next was the three-piece political folk-punk band Ankle Grease. I only discovered them days earlier when I was looking at the listings for upcoming events on Hive Mind’s Facebook page. After a quick Google search, I was sucked in. They are the reason I attended the show.
“We’re Ankle Grease and we’re from all over the god damn place.”
Barefoot and mic-less, singer/guitarist Jesse Grease howled and savaged his way through a selection of visceral punk rock heavily culled from EP “Straight to the Bottom” (2015) and the then-yet-to-be-released album “Pizza For President” (July 1, 2017). They barraged the audience with one passionately written and performed pipe bomb after another: “Half Moon,” “Cops,” “Hollywood,” “Molotov,” “Fiver” and “Taco Tuesday” among others.
“The Fight is long and hard, but things that are worth it are usually that way.”
The band ended their set with the inspiring “Protest Songs.”
Ankle Grease wears their outrage on their sleeves. They are an exceptional live act that must be seen to be fully appreciated.
“Walk With Your Hands In Your Pockets”
The Baker’s Basement closed the evening. A mixture of rock, indie and folk; the duo feels a bit more classically trained than the usual bands that play DIY venues. Their material is inventive, with an unforeseen touch of funky swagger at times. “Kate” (drums) has a legit set of pipes. I’m curious to see more from them.