B Boys | 05.07.16

The band exploded live, confirming they’re not just some studio creation, but a living, breathing, raw music machine.


Foam, St. Louis

Brooklyn’s B Boys proved that the ‘80s were great, but a much-maligned decade for music. The sinewy trio captivated a small, but enthusiastic crowd of edgy club crawlers at Cherokee Street’s Foam last Friday night.

Touring behind their brilliant, hooky, and murky EP No Worry, No Mind (Captured Tracks), the muscular trio delivered a tight, eight-song set that oscillated between bouncy, jangly punk-pop and more dark, edgy, and unsettling edginess.

The B Boys excel at recapturing the murkiness, joy, and lo-fi jangle of the British Underground New Wave explosion (The Fall, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, Wire), and mixing it with the jerky, syncopated beats of groundbreaking acts like Devo and abandon of Minneapolis’ ruffians, the Replacements.

Songs like the Cure-ish “I Don’t Mind”—sporting a very Peter Hook/Joy Division bass hook and memorable vocal refrain—got the crowd moving. Guitarist Britton Walker’s repetitive guitar line and bassist/vocalist Brendon Avalos’ nonchalant vocal delivery had the street cheetah coolness of Iggy or Lou Reed. Single “Get a Grip” exploded live, confirming they’re not just some studio creation, but a living, breathing, raw music machine. Avalos was a whirling dervish and pogoing punk. In constant motion, he jumped up to the mic to chime in with Walker’s adrenalized vocals.

Drummer Andrew Kerr propelled “Get a Grip,” and the sweaty set’s other numbers, with intricate, hi-hat flourishes, solid tom work, and memorable fills. Other set highlights included the danceable and sing-along choruses of “Nevah” and the droning, murky, psychedelic-laced “Seagulls,” punk-rock fury reminiscent of the Buzzcocks or the Damned. Cuts like the amphetamine rush of “Psycho (Fast)” and the soaring chorus and big bounce of “Other Head” were surefire crowd pleasers.

The B Boys prove the future may well be the past and the legacy of the fertile ’80s underground, punk, and alternative scenes. Their music reminds me of some obscure, long-lost ’80s record you discover at a second-hand record store and spend your life searching to find them playing at some obscure club. Fortunately, the B Boys are in the here and now, and not some remnant of the past.

The B Boys continue their tour into June and will be opening for the Parquet Courts. Catch them if you can…or live to regret it. | Doug Tull

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