Friday, September 30, 2022

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Sound Stage

The Cream of the Crop


Bright Giant bassist Justin Goes.

Bright Giant bassist Justin Goes.

“We had a private show cancel this week,” Bright Giant frontman Josh Davis said before his show at Gas Lamp. “They said we sounded ‘too goth.’ ”

There’s possibly no faster way to identify oneself as a mouth-breathing member of the musical ragtag and bobtail than to classify Bright Giant as “goth.” The Des Moines area garage rockers produced one of 2011’s greatest local albums in “Kings and Queens of Air.” Last Friday they descended upon Gas Lamp with a video crew in tow and delivered a vintage performance.

Opening up was folk brother act, Red Marx Men. Recently transplanted from Colorado, frontman Jerry Lorenson — accompanied by his younger brother Jeff and Bright Giant drummer William Locker — is a deft storyteller. With his gorgeous songwriting, Lorenson manipulates the emotions of his listeners like a sculptor working in marble or clay. He’s an expressive performer, reminding one of Glen Hansard in both voice and physicality.

After Red Marx Men’s beautiful acoustic set, Bright Giant plugged in and blew people away. The band is one of strongest rock outfits in the area, and getting to see them live is an opportunity that everyone should avail themselves of at least once.

Watching guitarist Noah Mass is worth the price of admission on by itself. So subdued as songs begin, Mass’ energy builds like a coiled spring as the music builds, and an audience is practically compelled to feed off his force of personality.

Bright Giant doesn’t really have a bad song in its repertoire, but easily the most popular song in the catalog is “Jake and the Gunslinger,” and with good reason. The Stephen King-inspired anthem has one of the catchiest choruses around, and the driving forces of Locker and bassist Justin Goes on the low-end make the song a must-hear. CV

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