I guess blowing minds in NYC a few weeks back with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard wasn’t enough for Ambrose Kenny-Smith, so he decided to come back to Brooklyn this past week and destroy what was left with The Murlocs. There are plenty of people who pull double duty when it comes to bands, but I’ve never seen such kick ass back-to-back shows for both. I was there to cover KGATLW on October 21st at Forest Hills for FTA (coverage can be found here) and couldn’t wait to see harmonica slayer Kenny-Smith with fellow Lizard Wizard Cook Craig on bass, Cal Shortal (from ORB) on guitar, Tim Karmouche (from Crepes) on keys, and Matt Blach (from Beans) on drums, kick it at MHOW and they did not disappoint.
First thing I noticed before The Murlocs even took the stage was the familiar faces from the Forest Hills gig. And everyone discussing their favorite tracks, or favorite album, comparing setlists or who had a bootleg recording. This is definitely not a casual fan—both bands have developed a strong and dedicated fan base. That fervor carried on throughout the set, from the opening riff of “Subsidiary” from the bands sixth full-length album Rapscallion (ATO) released in September on through the closing riff of “Rolling On.”
The set included a lot of newer songs from the recently released Rapscallion, like “Living Under a Rock,” “Bellarine Ballerina,” “The Royal Vagabond,” and “Compos Mentis” as well as 2021’s Bittersweet Demons tracks “Francesca” and “Bittersweet Demons.” Whether the songs were old or new, these guys rocked like this is their one and only band, delivering a full throttled performance that found Kenny-Smith on the stage floor by the end of the set. I can’t even imagine how he handles a double bill where the Murlocs opens for KGATLW and he does a combined 4-hour performance in one night but somehow, he does it. And he’s clearly having a good time doing it.
Warming up the crowd was multi-instrumentalist, Canadian native, Paul Jacobs, who also pulls double duty. The first time I caught the Paul Jacobs band and rocked out to their 70’s inspired, melodic rock jams, I didn’t even make the connection between them and Jacobs’ other band, Pottery. While he sports long hair now and fronts his own band on vocals and guitar, it was just a few years ago I was capturing a short haired Jacobs beat the hell out of his drums with the post-punk art rock band. Being someone that listens to and is open to so many genres of music myself, I can really appreciate the two totally distinct sounds of both bands. And just like Dave Grohl stepping out from behind his kit in Nirvana to front the Foo Fighters, Jacobs is a natural front man with a solid band behind him. The mix of songs from previous albums and this year’s 185 on the Corner EP recall a simpler, laid back, lo-fi vibe I could imagine being the playlist to a long summer drive. Especially the beat and percussion on tracks like “Christopher Robbins” from 2021’s Pink Dogs on the Green Grass which gets me in a “Low Rider,” Dazed & Confused soundtrack state of mind.
Try to catch these two great bands on the remainder of the dates which run through December 2nd on the West Coast.
Scroll down for setlist, pics of the show (photos by Kevin McGann)
Setlist: Subsidiary, Living Under a Rock, The Royal Vagabond, Withstand, Russian Roulette, Wickr Man, Eating at You, Bittersweet Demons, Bowlegged Beautiful, Violent Dreams, Comfort Zone, Bobbing and Weaving, Bellarine Ballerina, Farewell to Clemency, What If, Compos Mentis, Growing Pains, Skyrocket, Francesca, Reassurance, Rolling On