The Smithereens performed at an Oracle party at Cow Palace in San Francisco last week and I was lucky enough to get into the show. There were three separate stages featuring the likes of Billy Joel, Stevie Knicks and Lenny Kravitz (more on that in the next post). There was also loads of free beer and food, and geeks all over the place. So it was a bit chaotic, to say the least. Still, there were at least two great bands among all of these, so what the heck. Could do worse on a school night, eh?
I hadn't heard a Smithereens song in ages, so it was nice to see them still performing after nearly 30 years. They have great harmonies and a classic 60's to 80's sound, sometimes described as "Jersey Beat meets the Mersey Beat." Pat DiNizio's voice was a strong as ever belting out classic Smithereens tunes ("A Girl Like You," "Blue Period," "Behind the Wall of Sleep," "Blood & Roses") as well as a couple of covers ("I Wanna Hold Your Hand," "Behind Blue Eyes.") His voice and the sharpness of the lyrics reminded me of a combination of Elvis Costello and REM. But maybe that's just my Elvis bias showing through.
Jim Babjak rocked the night away --all smiles-- with his heavy-duty Telecaster and his trademark shimmering guitar sound. He is one cool dude! Dennis Diken kept the beat on drums but unfortunately, I never got a good shot of him. Severo "The Thrilla from Manilla" Jornacion on bass is the newest member of the band, taking over from founding bass player Mike Mesaros.
Photos and video from the gig available on Picasa and YouTube. On the video clip, you can see Pat getting the full benefit from his Fender VG strat, coaxing a reasonably acurate acoustic sound out of an electric guitar. That was pretty cool.
If you're in Philly, Virginia or New York, watch for upcoming gigs.