Saturday night at Satellite Ballroom kicked off with local quintet Kings of Belmont. Having seen their name on flyers around town for a while, I had begun to imagine that they were some sort of messy, alcohol-fueled garage rock band. I was only partially wrong. Alcohol certainly factors into the Kings’ equation (in one song they sing about "ice cold shots of Jäger"), but their sound is more classic rock than garage. Their songs came off better when they opted for narrative lyrics (rather than repeating weak lines like "step out" or "the jerk store called") and best when the lyrics were combined with the occasional Springsteen-esque melody.
The jam-heavy rockers of Man Mountain Jr. rang in their eleventh year of local music with a lengthy set of tunes (and a few surprise guests) at Satellite Ballroom.
|Take a listen to "Bad Days (live)" by Man Mountain Jr.:
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Courtesy of Man Mountain Jr. – Thanks!
After the Kings finished up, Man Mountain Jr. stepped on stage, but got off to a slow start. While Tucker Rogers wailed skillfully on his guitar and B.J. Pendleton sang with sufficient zeal, the music floated along at an overly comfortable pace. Such an energy level might have been O.K. for a more intimate venue like Orbit or Outback Lodge, but Satellite’s concert hall atmosphere demanded a more dynamic performance.
Luckily, Pendleton announced after a few songs that, since this was M.M. Jr.’s 11th anniversary show, guest musicians would be joining the band. Soon, Beetnix MCs Damani Harrison (once a Mountain man himself) and Louis Hampton hopped onto the stage and immediately brought things up a couple notches. Pendleton’s bass grooves found a perfect spot underneath the duo’s rhymes, Rogers’ licks gained more breadth amid the heavier rhythms and DJs XSV and Ducktape manned their decks to augment Mountain drummers Justin Billcheck and Ryan McClellan.
With the upped energy level, portions of the crowd that had been mingling near the back finally gravitated towards the stage, and Harrison and Hampton kept everyone engaged through a few songs before bowing out.
The members of Man Mountain Jr. soon followed the Beetnix off the stage for an intermission and left the DJs to drop some tracks. Though most of the audience used this time to chat, grab a drink or take a smoke break, XSV and Ducktape laid down a fun and skilled mix, pulling out everything from Jay-Z’s "99 Problems" and Lily Allen’s "Smile" to Ray Charles’ "I Got A Woman" and AC/DC’s "Back in Black."
The band eventually returned but, as it was nearing 1am, the crowd had thinned and the band’s energy level had settled back to the pace of the night’s beginning. Satisfied with the evening’s arch and ready to trade in Man Mountain’s warm grooves for my own warm bed, I headed out of the Ballroom, listening to the jovial noises of The Corner and the fading sounds of the band as they continued celebrating 11 years of jams.
A video of Man Mountain Jr. performing live in 2006.