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The Boom Bang ignite with surf guitars, distorted vocals and chaotic concerts that sometimes explode


Chris Parker March 25th, 2010

The Boom Bang with Deerpeople and Kite Flying Robot
9 p.m. Friday
Opolis, 113. N Crawford, Norman
www.opolis.org, 447-3417
$7, $9 under 21

The Boom Bang is a clear case of truth in advertising.

The Oklahoma City quartet's lead-footed, garage-rock clamor offers pedal-mashing thrills as wheels spin in a rubber-laying roar that unites a tsunami of surf-inflected guitar distortion and chunky rhythms, over which front man James Smith unleashes his frenzied vocal attack. Like a '70 Cadillac Eldorado barreling down a narrow alley, sparks showering on either side, there's no choice but to let the rumbling momentum run right over you.

Formed two years ago, the band suffered growing pains that claimed a succession of drummers before the group settled on its current lineup early last year. After spending the fall recording in Clinton, The Boom Bang assembled the set of seven songs that comprise its recent EP, "Pizzapocalypse," a phrase guitarist Tommy McKenzie overheard while working at Hideaway Pizza.

"We had this grouping of songs, and said, 'Let's just go ahead and put it on iTunes.' We didn't have enough money to have a physical release," he said. "So we put it on iTunes, and the reception of those who heard it has been nothing but positive."

It's not hard to see why. From the spooky swagger of "Pink Pistola" to the Ramones-ish "Kristin," and an incendiary rave-up in "Tag Along," The Boom Bang sound like Black Lips' grittier cousins. Smith layers his vocals with reverb and effects in order to match his backers' crush of sound.

"He's just really experimental," McKenzie said "He uses a lot of vocal effects, like guitar pedals through his vocals, so it's able to fill up a lot of space, as opposed to someone who just sings into a microphone, James treats it like an instrument, where you have this aura of noise, as opposed to having the guitar and bass do all of it."

The group's live shows are as chaotic as its recordings. The musicians have set off firecrackers at house parties and mutilated an amp in front of last year's Dfest audience. The live shows get so out of hand, the guys often end up injuring each other. Bassist Weston Lorance has bled all over his bass, while McKenzie was thwacked by a swinging microphone at a recent gig.

Meanwhile, Smith wanders the stage like a deranged, homeless man panhandling for love, alternatively plaintive and intimidating. The whole atmosphere is "anything goes."

"The audience at a show knows as much about what's about to happen as we do," Smith said. "We just kind of go with it."

The Boom Bang has played a lot of shows of late, including the recent South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. All the time on the road hasn't impacted the writing " in fact, the busy schedule seems to have inspired the members. They've written nearly all the songs for their full-length debut, and recorded more than half of them.

A summer release is eyed for "Ghost Without a Coast."

"It's like we're this spooky surf music, but we're in the central United States," McKenzie said. "We're not on the West or East Coast, so we're without a coast, but it still resonates with that same feeling."

As for the upcoming album's sound, listeners can expect the same no-holds-barred ferocity of the notorious live shows.

"I'm always disappointed if I hear something live that I don't hear on the CD, or it doesn't translate," McKenzie said. "I feel like whatever you see up there, I want to hear music that makes me feel how it is when I see it performed." —Chris Parker
 
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