Lukas Nelson | 10.28.11

lukas smThere’s something in Nelson’s performance that hides his own youth—he’s a mere 22 years old—and gives the impression of worldliness.

 

Old Rock House, St. Louis

Before the show Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real played at Old Rock House on October 28, there was a palpable feeling of anticipation in the air. There was good music on the way, of course, but we had also just won the 2011 World Series less than a half-mile from the venue. Old Rock House had postponed the show start until after the game was over. They had also set up their large projection system to show the game behind the stage. So when the game was won and everyone had hugged and high-fived every other Cardinals fan within range, the crowd was downright giddy with excitement.

It seems fitting, then, that the opening band was a local group, Pernikoff Brothers. While perhaps not quite as well-known as David Freese yet, the band has been making quite a name for itself since the release of its first album, On My Way, last year. The trio—brothers Rick and Tom Pernikoff and their friend Dan Germain—has been performing all over the country with the likes of Tim Reynolds and at places like CMJ, a music festival in New York.

That said, having seen them as recently as April, I was struck by how different they seemed. They were still identifiable, and still fantastic, but the dynamic has changed. In April, I considered Rick to be more outgoing on stage, but this time it was certainly Tom. Their vocal stylings are more disparate now, as well. Tom’s voice has gotten bolder and more impassioned, while Rick’s has maintained a quieter strength. They’re both talented singers, though, and I maintain that their best moments are when they’re harmonizing. One of my favorite parts of their set was their cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog,” which they sung together and provided the song all of the gritty strength it deserved. They also played several new songs from the album they’ll be recording in the new year. The songs were different—the three men seem more comfortable in their own skins now—but the heart that made me love the first album is still there. It’s clear that Pernikoff Brothers are only improving with time.

The crowd was even more engaged when Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real took the stage. The audience itself was a marvel, with many people were wearing t-shirts with the name of Nelson’s father, Willie Nelson. That said, there were also quite a few young (and not so young) women dressed in such a way that they were trying to get the attention of the men on stage. Then the music started and it was clear that Nelson and the rest of the band were just as influenced by The Ramones (as was proclaimed on the t-shirt of drummer Anthony LoGerfo) as they were by Nelson’s father. They were raucous but rhythmic, and within 30 seconds of the first song, they had the previously mentioned underdressed women dancing in a way that brought back memories of the dancing for which we got in trouble in high school.

That aside, there’s something in Nelson’s performance that hides his own youth—he’s a mere 22 years old—and gives the impression of worldliness. The band’s first album, Promise of the Real, is rowdy and loud but there’s a shrewd intelligence there, as well. They’re currently finishing up their second album and it’s based, essentially, on some hard partying that Nelson engaged in this last summer that almost killed him. He’s sober now, but is using his music as an outlet to tell the story. Some of the songs played at the concert were obviously from this new album and, distressing as the subject may be, there’s no denying how enjoyably rough and tumble the music remains. If the show they played was any indication to what we can expect from the new album, I’m anxiously awaiting more of the music.

Given the late start time, it’s no wonder perhaps that the show went on well after 1 a.m., and when the crowd poured out of the venue, it was to find a city painted red. Having been a St. Louisan for most of my adult life, I can say there are few things in this world that seem to bring people together like music and Cardinals baseball. The night was the perfect balance of the two, and while we’ve no promises our baseball triumph will be repeated, we can hope that both bands that performed will be around for a long time—and keep sharing their gifts with us. | Teresa Montgomery

Live photo by Teresa Montgomery

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