By Dutch Godshalk
Standing beneath the crumbling red brick walls of North Star Bar, sporting a Howard Hughes beard and gripping a taped up Rickenbacker electric guitar, Parker Gispert of The Whigs looked a little weathered. His voice, however, was intact, and his playing as vehement as ever. The Whigs are a pure road band; looking a little weathered just comes with the territory.
Returning to Philly on April 25, The Whigs were met by their loyal crowd of diehards, a throng of twenty-somethings in plaid climbing all over each other at the foot of the stage, their hair whipping around, their beers resting by Gispert’s feet.
Things get loud at a Whigs show. The three-piece — made up of Gispert, drummer Julian Dorio and bassist Timothy Deaux — doesn’t just fill silence, it rends it and tears through it. They are garage rock incarnate, loud, riff heavy and loaded with hooks. It’s like someone bottled up “There is Nothing Left to Lose”-era Foo Fighters, shook the bottle violently and sprayed it all over the room.
The band went through some songs off their latest album, “Modern Creation,” released April 22 (their single “Hit Me” is a stand out) and peppered in a few choice cuts from their first record, 2005’s Give ‘Em All a Big Fat Lip, like the keyboard-laden “Half the World Away”. To close the set, they appropriately covered David Bowie’s ode to youthful abandon, “Rebel Rebel.”
Opening for The Whigs was Nikki Lane, a badass country-rock newcomer with serrated bangs, distant, tired blue eyes and lyrics that offer the right amount of country grit.
Lane, who currently lives in Nashville, writes songs that possess the town’s vintage country honk — complete with pedal steel guitar and smoky, two-part female harmonies — but she adds her own stamp of rustic modern heartbreak to the mix. Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys) produced her latest album, “All or Nothin’,” but here’s betting Jack White would have enjoyed the honor, too.
Touring in support of “All or Nothin’,” Lane will play four more shows with The Whigs during early March and then switch to touring with Old 97’s the rest of the month.
The pairing of the soulful, mossy Lane and the loud, torrid Whigs created an interesting contrast; the former blanketed the crowd in earthy moods while the latter struck them upside the head with pure electric rock. Weathered and real and strikingly different, The Whigs and Nikki Lane go well together.
Follow Dutch Godshalk on Twitter @DutchGodshalk.