A few years back, before the tree had been removed from The Tree Bar, I was in the back room of the club watching local underdogs Speed Governor hammer through a set of blue collar, post-collegiate rockers. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before and sounded so familiar that I texted a friend …
If it was 1996, SPD GVNR would be my favorite local band. I wouldn’t miss a single show.
I sort of know Justin Hemminger and Nick La Russo, the way you know guys who you share some music interests with and who you bump into at clubs where a band featuring one or two members of a lesser-known, early-to-mid ‘90s indie label band is performing on a Tuesday night to a small handful of die-hard, longtime fans.
What I do know is that the music these guys create – along with soon-to-depart drummer Chris McConnell – comes from that mid-90s lineage – it’s meat-and-potatoes rock that sounds best pressed to 7” vinyl and released two or three songs at a time (that doesn’t sound right – I’m very pleased with a 9-song full length from Speed Governor). There aren’t any big group choruses, there’s not a ton of “let’s get this on rock radio” guitar hooks, you’re not going to necessarily walk around with any of these songs stuck in your head but what Speed Governor promises – and delivers – is what the groups that inspired this collection of songs promised: economical, low-budget guitar rock that is earnest and even better live than listening through headphones (though that ain’t a bad way to listen to these guys).
As I was listening to Be Criticized!, I was trying to think of the bands Speed Governor reminded me of and/or the bands I was listening to in 1996 that I couldn’t get enough of and was going to places like Stache’s and Bernie’s to see – bands that had traveled from places like Hoboken, New Jersey and Manhattan, Kansas and Raleigh, North Carolina and San Diego, California and Portland, Oregon and Washington DC to deliver 30 – 45 minutes of in-the-moment, post-(hardcore)(emo)-rock in dark and often smelly clubs where an MGD was considered a “premium” beer and you paid a bit more for it than you did for a can of Black Label or Natural Light.
And then I remembered – as older guys my age tend to do – that years ago Justin had used the Donewaiting message board to fill out his trio.
Looking for drummer into mid-to-late ‘90’s indie rock, a la: archers of loaf, chavez, fugazi, jawbox/burning airlines, les savy fav, pavement, seaweed, silkworm, superchunk, the wrens
Too bad I’m not a drummer because with a list of influences like that, I would have responded. Of course, kids and career would have probably led to me having to prematurely exit the band but I digress. Justin and Nick found a kindred spirit and Speed Governor was born.
Now, a few years later, the band is ready to release it’s first full length album. But, as Murphy’s Law dictates, when you plan an album release party months in advance, you most definitely won’ t have the album in hand and available for sale. Due to some manufacturing delays, the album is a little bit behind schedule. There’s a full line-up on entertainment – headlined by Speed Governor – set for Friday night at KOBO. Sadly, the release show also marks the end of the Chris McConnell-era as the drummer is set to move to Arizona.
Show up. Drink some beer. Sway back and forth. Get sweaty. Relive 1996 all over again.