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Infamous end-of-the-80s Cleveland glam-punk killers, Death Of Samantha, ended their recent reunion mini-tour at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right last night. Though the band called it a night in the early ’90s, all four original members have stayed active in various musical projects since—most notably singer/guitarist John Petkovic in Cobra Verde, Guided By Voices and Sweet Apple; guitarist Doug Gillard in Guided By Voices, Nada Surf and solo work. Then in 2013, they decided a one-off reunion gig was worth extending. They recorded a rehearsal in 2013 and released it earlier this year as the surprisingly excellent self-released 2-LP, If Memory Serves Us Well.
Time and the members’ non-stop rocking have churned DoS into a more explorative force, but even within nearly every tune’s jammy sections last night, the band’s sonic switchblading remained furious, often due to drummer Steve-O (who brought along numerous hilarious hats and masks that he switched up with each song), bashing more creatively than ever; and bassist David James reigning him in when necessary. But mainly the band is a showcase for Petkovic and Gillard’s guitar knife fights. Petkovic still finds time to make hilarious asides about their hometown; Gillard proved yet again that he is simply one of the best lead guitarists alive. This is not hyperbole people. After his more nuanced and melodic solo work of the last few years, the fevered action of Death Of Samantha has been a brain-blowing reminder of his punchier prowess.
They blasted through fan favorites like Savior City, Harlequin Tragedy, Good Friday and Bed Of Fire, while discovering new corners of longer workouts like Conviction and Blood Creek. While the lengths to which they stretched each song might’ve surprised the number of old fans in the room—afterall, Death of Samantha was a kind of sardonic, rust belt Sex Pistols in their infancy—it has been amazing to see the band not just doing a rote reunion run-through, but actually still morphing the band into something new. There’s no assurance this reunion lasts, so if you get a chance to see them, you should.
Locals Lame Drivers started out the night right. Like if Mission Of Burma were a power pop band, their catchy tunes were more angular and tricky than you’d notice at first. Fellow Cleveland native Dave Hill snuck in a quick, hysterical set of sexy guitar noodling and deadpan porn stories in between the two bands. The NYC-based writer/comedian who once claimed he’s “probably a better guitarist than comedian” might be right, but he’s still pretty damn funny.
Photos by Harriet Roberts.