The Freaks of Nature have It. Whether it is charisma, spunk, panache, chutzpah, or a mix of everything and more the Valley-based proto-punks are entertaining as hell. They play a fast-paced style of rock that is as easy to shake and shimmy to as it is to mosh.
At their 1 a.m. Saturday night set at the Lost Leaf, the Freaks had more of a shake-and-shimmy crowd than a mosh crowd, but either way, the Freaks had the dance floor packed at the the little venue on Fifth and Roosevelt.
The set began with drummer Andrew Jemsek asking the crowd if they could find him some drumsticks -- he found himself with one-and-a-half. Unfortunately for him the answer was no, but the intrepid Jemsek played on, and played well.
The Freaks do not really have any slow songs, which makes things easy -- the set began with an upbeat rocker called "Get on Your Way," which had their emphatic frontman/rhythm guitarist Daniel Shircliff screaming out the lyrics to to an enthusiastic crowd that screamed them right back.
The Freaks went with one of their newer tunes next with "C'mon 'N Dance," and the crowd did not need to be told twice. All 50 or so of the Leaf's late-night customers were packed onto the dance floor.
The benchmark of a great show at the Lost Leaf is how much the floor feels like it's going to cave in underneath you. The Freaks had the floor wobbling by song number three, "Make Me Cry." That was also around the same time that opening act Andalusia Rose's drummer finally wrangled up some drumsticks for Jemsek.
The music continued to rock, the floor continued to shake, and the PBRs continued to flow for $2 per bottle. Jemsek and the rest of the band seemed to think that he sounded better with the broken sticks, but the crowd did not seem to notice a difference as every song brought more energy, and not less as would be expected at such a late set.
The band barreled through more of its high-energy garage-rock tunes, including new ones and staples like "Can't Take Me" and "Tell Me Lies."
There is no slowdown at a Freaks of Nature show -- every song is fast-paced and high energy. They're all meant to get the crowd moving, and if the music cannot accomplish that alone, Shircliff has no problem leaving the stage area and bringing his dance moves and guitar into the audience.
The band also features Carly's Bistro owner John Logan on bass and lead guitarist Steve Ostrov. All four musicians have been around the block, so to speak, when it comes to playing in bands, and all their experience and musicianship definitely make what they do look easy and make it sound oh-so-good.
By the end of the set, Jemsek seemed disappointed with his play and chose to knock over his drum kit. Which is a real shame -- when the band is so good that the audience does not notice the mistakes and just keeps dancing and cheering, well, that band is onto something.
The show was opened by locals Battered Suitcases and Cultures, as well as New Mexico-based La Chat Lunatique and Oakland's Andalusia Rose.
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