Welcome to the Second Revivalist Church of Rock’n’Roll. Tonight’s sermon will be given by none other than The Hammerheads, whose souls have been purged clean in the fires of eternal damnation and have come back to spread the irresistible message of the four saints, John, Paul, George and Mick. Please put your hands and Stratocasters together for the one, the only…
OK, when the Hammerheads hit the stage it wasn’t quite like that. The Hammerheads weren’t playing at a church, but as the final band of the night in KROQ and Tecate’s Battle for Los Angeles, a multi-round battle of the bands for local talent at Hollywood’s Knitting Factory. In their 40-minute set, they belted out a frantically infectious mix of rock’n’roll flavors and punk tempos, with tunes like “Girl (Not Yet a Woman),” “Dirty Girl,” “Wooden Leg” and “Spoonful.”
But they may as well have been our preachers for the night – the Hammerheads are, in the truest sense of the word, a rock’n’roll revival band, reaching back to both the Rolling Stones and the black church in music, attitude and presentation. During show closer “Woman,” singer-guitarist Anton Yelchin and singer-bassist Dave Glowacki convulsed like madmen on the floor, possessed by the raw energy of the music. Between songs, Glowacki and Yelchin’s MC5-style banter quickly degenerated (or elevated, depending on your perspective) into call-and-response gibberish, working each other and the audience into a feverish frenzy. Like the best of congregations, the audience proved receptive to the Hammerhead’s message – even the obviously out-of-place hardcore fans indulged in some good-old-fashioned rock dancing.
In the style of their idols, the Hammerheads struck a balance between all-out energy and detached cool, with drummer Ryan Dean and slick lead guitarist Darian Campbell prodding the band relentlessly forward, even at the set’s more sedate moments. But at all times, The Hammerheads remained in control, grooving together nicely and hitting cues on time – even if it meant popping up from the floor.
And, wouldn’t you know, there were some believers in the house: The Hammerheads won the evening’s battle, moving them to the finals on July 30.
-By Dean Schaffer