VIENNA, Va., March, 1, 2012—The U Street Music Hall is a basement club that harkens back to the day of true underground music. The club itself looks like something a person would find in any old footage of a ’80s hardcore punk show and it has the sort of dingy rock club quality that people get nostalgic for. While a band like Lionize might not fit the description of a band that would play at U Street at first glance, they certainly embody the spirit of a band that would play there.
The band from Silver Spring, Maryland is a fairly straight forward reggae/jam band. It’s not a modern sound they subject the audience to, but any band playing this style isn’t overly concerned with breaking new ground. What Lionize is clearly more interested in is getting the audience into a groove and having a good time.
Several of their songs reference, often overtly, the psychedelic movement of yesteryear, and it’s something they clearly believe in. Front man Nate Bergman stressed this line of thinking several times encouraging the crowd to enjoy themselves and stressing how genuinely excited the band was to be back in their relative backyard. They bring an infectious energy with each and every song, which might be expected from a band of their ilk, but is refreshing given the environment.
This might be something that’s expected of them, considering where their musical roots lie. Something about the band doesn’t quite click in those terms though. A band with the M.O. Lionize sports normally would fit in more at a wide open and airy club, but Lionize was right at home in classic rock and roll club headlining for a metal band and a southern hard rock band. There’s something suitably seedy about Lionize that makes them slightly more appealing.
That’s not to say they don’t fall in with what many people think of a jam band. They profess to be genre benders, and that’s true to an extent, but it’s all encased within the shell of a jam band. Regardless of what song they start on, there’s no telling where they might wind up. It’s that sort of unpredictability Lionize lets define them like many other jam bands.
At their core though, they very much have the feel of a classic rock band. They might stray from a straight forward style by incorporating tangential riffs to their songs, but the songs still pack the punch expected from a typical rock and roll band. Also, Chris Brooks’ organ like keyboard playing always brings to mind ‘70s era rock bands.
Lionize aren’t trying to break the mold, but at the same time they recall a period that’s not seen too often in the underground scene. The band is intriguing because they fly in the face of a lot of what modern music is doing today. Lionize doesn’t rely on any sort of gimmick to get their sound across and they’re unapologetic about just playing and having a good time.
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