On the first single from its self-titled debut album, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club asked "Whatever Happened To My Rock 'n' Roll?"
Touring in support of its second release, "Take Them On, On Your Own," Wednesday at The Bottleneck, the band made the answer obvious. The San Francisco trio's mix of 1980s shoegazing rock and 1960s psychedelica was a perfect antidote to the current pop-music scene.
Opening with "Stop" and "Six Barrel Shotgun," BRMC (guitarist/vocalist Peter Hayes, bassist/vocalist Robert Turner and drummer Nick Jago) showcased the more straight-forward feel of the new record, focusing less on reverb and white noise from the two frontmen and more on a cohesive performance from the whole band.
While Hayes and Turner led the way on the first album, using plenty of feedback and effects, Jago gets his due on "Take Them On," and it results in a better, more well-rounded live performance. Jago's drums, somewhat lost on the group's debut, come through clear in concert and really drive some of the new songs, such as "In Like the Rose" and "Rise Or Fall."
That's not to say the characteristic reverb and feedback have been ditched entirely, but new songs like "Going Under," and even old ones such as the blues-tinged "Screaming Gun" and funky "White Palms," help relieve the heaviness of others.
BRMC ended the main set with "Whatever Happened," leaving the crowd worked up and energized, before returning and opening the encore with the much darker "Suddenly." Following that with "Salvation," another slow song, seemed to put a damper on the end of the concert.
But the band -- who takes its name from Marlon Brando's biker gang in "The Wild One" -- had one trick left by seamlessly closing with "Heart + Soul" and another relatively fast-paced song before leaving the stage to a wall of noise.
Whatever happened to rock 'n' roll? It's in the hearts and souls of these three musicians.
-- World Online writer Levi Chronister can be reached at 832-7227.