Sep 14, 2011

These United States continue to believe in Rock ‘N’ Roll

While last Thursday night may have meant the bright lights and free drinks of Fashion Night Out to many spending their evening in lower Manhattan, a sparse but fortunate crowd thirsting for a grittier scene was well rewarded at the Mercury Lounge. The warm glow of the historic rock club welcomes patrons through the intimate, if narrow, wood-clad bar to a dark, bare-bones venue that lets the music color the scene. We last met up with These United States when they came to see The Yes Way in Lexington and again at SXSW, but now it was the DC and Kentucky natives turn to paint our town with tremendous conviction.

These United States have proven to be a workhorse act since emerging in 2008, having released four studio albums in that time. Front-man Jesse Elliot sets the tone with grainy, off-cadence vocals that capture the soul of the Cold War Kids’ Nathan Willett and play well against the band’s twangy, garage sound in the same spirit as the Black Lips. Also deserving praise are the invaluable contributions of drummer Robby Cosenza. The band may indeed be at their best when Cosenza’s aggressive thumping drives their sound, as could be heard on the opening break-up anthem “I Want You to Keep Everything.” Cosenza even lent his talents to the harmonica for the southern-fuzed working man’s blues “The Business” — another highlight of the evening.

Though no new musical barriers will collapse, nor shall any daring creative endeavors be tested at the hands of These United States, they deliver fun, authentic, Rock ‘N’ Roll and appear to have a good time doing so… visible as Elliot cut loose and embraced the lawlessness of “Honor Amongst Thieves.” While the show did lull a bit during its third quarter, one had little time to mingle at the bar or head outside for a smoke before the band exploded into a tremendous two song finale that included a rocked-out “The Important Thing” and funk-fueled “When You’re Traveling at the Speed of Light.”

The impressive energy continued into an inspired encore performance of debut-album favorite “First Sight.” This final song of the night seemed to embody the simple philosophy of the band itself, as the audience was left with the words “we believe in Rock N Roll” echoing in their heads. My belief was affirmed as These United States offered some very compelling evidence.

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