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Band Review - The Bangups - Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, CA by Harriet Kaplan

The Bangups

Hotel Cafe


The Bangups wear their punk rock hero credentials well. The group's brand of bratty, loud yet tuneful rock and roll also has a fuzz tone indie garage style stamp on it. The Bangups are also seasoned veterans that sweat with talent, ambition and purpose aiming for commercial success on their own terms.

Performing an hour-long set at Hotel Cafe recently, the show was comprised of material from their first CD, Ten Dollars An Hour, and the newest offering, Hellcat! The Bangups showcased 13 songs. Youthful lust was one theme explored on the instantly catchy and memorable "Sunburnt Love" and another song performed was about dealing with life's harsh realities from their first CD that shares the same title. A nod was also given to The Ramones. The Bangups delivered respectful, straightforward treatments "Judy is a Punk" and "Cretin Hop." If this show was any indication, The Bangups are poised and ready to make that leap to playing stadiums and arenas leaving the club circuit scene behind them in the dust.

The Grand Rapids, Michigan powerhouse duo of Joey Dornbos and Brent French performed every song with a single-minded urgency, intensity and drive. Going for broke was no exaggeration and the band demonstrated a steely determination that was hard to ignore. Those same traits, however, can be taken to the extreme and work against them because that approach doesn't leave much room for subtlety or nuance. Shifting the tone, dynamics and pacing would go a long way toward differentiating one song from another.

The Bangups have many great attributes as musicians and performers. Joey Dornbos is a very engaging and personable frontman. Dornbos reached out to connect with the audience. A crowd gathered near the stage and a few people were dancing in unison to the beat of the songs. The lanky Dornbos is a fun ringleader. He jive talked his way between songs getting the crowd excited creating anticipation for the next number and building momentum throughout the set. Dornbos was in constant motion, swinging his guitar around, alternating between dancing and pogoing on stage. He is a skilled and formidable guitarist that can change up rock and blues chords with seamless ease. His approach felt fresh and original. The passion was evident. Brent French on backing vocals and drums provided a solid bottom and rhythm foundation that tied the thunderous combination together.

- Harriet Kaplan


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