May 28th, 2012, 11:29 pm · · posted by DAVID HALL, FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
It was a night that proved the power of local love on Sunday at House of Blues in Anaheim. Fullerton-based rock outfit Roman Alexander & the Robbery headlined a showcase of four Orange County bands, each one building upon the positive vibes of the former to create a truly carefree Memorial Day pre-party.
The fun began with Danny Maika, who – along with a drummer and bassist Chris McCarthy – performed a short but pleasurable set of original tunes that ranged in sound from Jack Johnson to Dave Matthews. Maika’s soulful rasp was a major selling point, but one tune in particular executed on ukulele (accompanied by McCarthy on a rich-toned electric cello) should’ve convinced any naysayers.
Next came Anaheim’s the Field Trip, a distinctly more pop-oriented spinoff of Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, led by that now-defunct group’s bushy-headed vocalist/keyboardist, Dustin Apodaca, and guitarist Allen Van Orman. A couple years back, Apodaca announced he was quitting music to run for his hometown’s City Council; based on Sunday’s show, that obviously didn’t work out. And good thing – his flamboyant antics with the Field Trip were an exciting sight worth checking out again.
The following act, Jeramiah Red (like the Robbery, Fullerton-based), was likewise a group that warrants further attention. The band’s rowdy brand of classic rock/blues-based Americana ignited the spark set in place by the openers, inciting mass dancing, singing and of course, more drinks all around.
On standout songs such as “Break My Fall,” frontman Wes Dickson effortlessly adjusted his vocal tone from a Jack White-esque wail to a powerfully controlled screech akin to that of a young Axl Rose. For fans of those artists, plus bits of Neil Young, Glenn Danzig and anything inherently bluesy (see: multi-instrumentalist Travis Ruiz’s rollicking harmonica solos throughout), this was a surefire winner.
Now I don’t wanna say outright that Jeramiah Red upstaged the concert’s headliner, but it was surely a close call. Still, Roman Alexander & the Robbery played formidably, and it was clear from the continuous female shrieks of “I LOVE YOU!” and plenty more audience members singing every word to feel-good original tunes like “I Love Music” that the top-tier slot was well deserved.
More so than the group’s distinctly 90s-influenced songs (I was reminded often of Hootie and the Blowfish and Barenaked Ladies), Alexander & Co. drew enormous crowd participation from impassioned renditions of Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” and the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
Just goes to show: a couple of expertly done covers can change a gig’s level of entertainment from average to outstanding. Good run, chaps.
Photos by David Hall, for OrangeCounty.com.
The latest from Encore: