But if Jerry Only gets tired of being the punk rock Sting, he can wield his Devastator Bass while giving Evil Presley, lead singer of The Independents, a shot at vocal duties for one of the most revered bands in punk history. Why? Because Evil Presley and his band The Independents rock! Just ask anyone that witnessed their show at the Handlebar recently.
The opening act was the F’n A-holes from Alabama. I knew I was in for an interesting time when Jimmy Lamar announced, from behind the bar, that the F’n A-holes had exceeded their free alcohol limit. This was 30 minutes before the show had even started. When the band finally launched into their set, no one could escape their brand of Rock-a-billy meets Metal, meets Southern Fried humor. One example of which was their tune “When it Comes to Bad Luck, I’m Always Lucky.” Which Joey F’sticks (lead vocals/guitar) announced was a “Country and Western song….Heavy on the Western.” Anchored by Rob Rockford (drums) and Chris Charlie (bass) the F’n A-holes will make you move your feet and laugh in all of the spaces in between.
After the break, it was time for The Independents to take the stage. The last time I saw them perform was 7 years ago and I’m glad to say that they haven’t lost a step. Some people call their genre of music horror ska, but their set on this night was straight up punk with razor sharp metal undertones dancing below the surface. Evil Presley is a riot. He takes several cues from the Misfits founding frontman, but he is as tall as a mountain, big as a bear, and I guarantee you won’t find any clips of him getting knocked out floating around the internet. For as intimidating as he looks, Evil is as down to earth as a lead singer can get. Hanging out with the crowd, before, during and after the show, he also has the vocal chops and charisma to keep the crowd entertained. Matching Evil in intensity and fun were the rest of the Independents; fellow founding member, Willy B. (guitar), Rob Gilly (bass) and Anton Avitabile (drums.) They consistently interacted with the crowd while Evil even made his way to the back of the bar in the middle of a song to check on a patron who failed to join the frenzy in front of the stage.
Dancing insanity multiplied when they broke out their rendition of Elvis Presly’s “Suspicious Minds.” The Colonel would have been proud. TCB, baby, TCB! The Independents launched the already excited crowd to the moon when they closed the night with their half rock, half ska version of Danzig’s “Mother” and their straightforward cover of The Ramones classic “Blitzkrieg Bop.” A fitting tribute to the Ramones and especially the late, great Joey Ramone, who was a close friend, manager and producer of The Independents before his passing in 2001.