The Resonars And The Sloths At Harvard And Stone, Friday January 19th 2018
Two Burger Records’ favorites, The Resonars and the Sloths were playing a free show at Harvard and Stone on Friday night, and if The Sloths are LA’s Own, the Resonars are a band from Tucson Arizona. Both bands have a sort of parallel story with the small Fullerton label, the Sloths have proclaimed themself ‘Back from the Grave’ and have resurrected the band after seeing that their 1965 single, ‘Makin’ Love’, was going for $6,000 on Ebay, while the Resonars, which had been Matt Rendon’s personal project for 15 years, became a reality as a live band after some help from Burger, and the formation of a band he had never been able to find before. This happened a few years ago, and both bands undertook a mini tour across California and Arizona in January, with a stop at Harvard and Stone on Friday night.
The stage presence of the two bands couldn’t be more different, if the Resonars stand straight in front of their mics like the British invasion, from which they somewhat borrow their sound, the Sloths (and if you have seen them you know what I am talking about) have a more ferocious vibe with their frontman, Tommy McLoughlin, in search of wilder crazier stage antics each time.
The Resonars certainly bring back the glorious days of 60s rock ‘n’ roll with plenty of sweet vocal harmonies and a rare loudness, probably unheard of during the time period they seem to emulate. Undoubtedly, there was a timeless quality to their songs, which did sound familiar at the first listening, with jangling guitars and pop tune galore. If most bands of Burger Records can be called garage rock, the Resonars have this familiar genre-blending and time-bending pop sound, that everyone will effortlessly fall for. Drawing his inspiration from the Beatles and the Who is one thing, but Matt Rendon is able to write original songs with a blazing pop-power sound quality, and all set long, the quartet propelled their fast and bright tunes with a very animated drummer, and basically sounding like a lost record of the mid 60s, played by a forgotten band… You have to know that, at a very few exceptions, Matt Rendon was the only one playing all the instruments on all the Resonars records: ‘That was all a ruse,’ he said in an interview, ‘trying to make it look like a real record by a real band. The names were Matt Rendon, my brother John Rendon(I don’t really have a brother John), Keith Lopez (‘cos every band needs a guy named Keith and Lopez is my mom’s maiden name), and Mick Huxley (the debonair charming bass player)’. Their ‘archaic’ sound, as Rendon calls it, was an assured crowd pleaser, bringing an ageless sound inside the small Hollywood bar.
The Sloths followed with their original ’60s rock sound and punk ethic, and if I have seen them a couple of times before, their wild style and Tommy McLoughlin’s inventive stage tricks never fail to entertain me and any crowd. Their blend of old-school blues R&B and pure rock ‘n’ roll bravado brought the crowd to their knees, like the guy next to me, bouncing like a wild goat during their finale song, a rendition of ‘Gloria’
Even though Michael Rummans (on lead guitar) is the only original founding member in the group, the band and its current lineup (McLoughlin on vocals, Rik Collins on guitar, and Ray Herron on drums) always manage to put on a very sweaty and uplifting show, and of course, their performance is led by their frontman’s rock ‘n’ roll theatrics. The energy of their show is always over the top, as McLoughlin has certainly understood that rock and roll is always about a good act. While the guitars play Rolling Stones-esque riffs, he screams, plays with fire or electricity, blows in an harmonica, stretches his arms in dispair or hope, jumps in the crowd, mimes every song story, kneels down, aches with the music, executes a magic trick with a fan and confetti, and commits a state of the art rock ‘n’ roll suicide… a self stabbing with plenty of fake blood in a true Alice Cooper style… ouch! It is defying death, as he told us, because anyone above 60 doing that kind of so-called kid’s stuff has to be giving the middle finger to the Grim Reaper
Harvard and Stone may be on Hollywood boulevard but with the Sloths, is always about the Sunset Strip and its 1965 glory, during their hit song ‘Making Love’ and its Bo Diddley jungle fever tempo that brought them back to the stage followed by a Chuck Berry cover, which reminded everyone about the roots of rock ‘n’ roll. It was soon a sweaty stage with a large bag of accessories, a few costume changes, and a set including the catchy ‘Never Enough Girls’, a tune written by Holly Beth Vincent for Joey Ramone, to the stomping ‘One Way Out’ (you should check out their video).
The fun night was another inspiring proof that rock ‘n’ roll can help us survive these crazy times, thanks to bands that dare to keep the dream alive, with bravado and a swagger for the ages.