January 05, 2005

RIGHT UP THEIR ALLEY

Buzzed Meg.jpg

Buzzed Meg bowls 'em over in N.J.

Buzzed Meg
Asbury Lanes -- Asbury Park, N.J.
Dec. 17, 2004

Smithereens fans got an early Christmas present Dec. 17 when Jim Babjak reactivated his Buzzed Meg side project for its first show in three years.

Buzzed Meg played at Asbury Lanes, a bowling alley-turned-rock-club with a stage right on the lanes in Asbury Park, N.J., and, ahem, bowled the crowd over.

Two of the guys who put the power in the power-pop of the Smithereens -- lead guitarist Babjak and drummer Dennis Diken, were in fine form. The sound didn't deviate too far from the parent band's trademark '60s-inspired guitar rock, but with Kurt Reil and Kristen Pinell of the Grip Weeds onboard, featured more vocal harmonies. Babjak ceded lead vocal duties to Reil, who got a chance to step out from behind the drums and be the frontman for a change. Babjak did sing lead on one song, the should-be holiday classic "Christmas Morning."

Reil handled the rest, including "Love Is Gone," which can be found on the recent Smithereens double-CD collection, From Jersey It Came! The Smithereens Anthology. Pinell and Babjak engaged in some exhilarating guitar interplay, most notably on a few Who covers, including "Young Man Blues." Other covers included The Monkees' "She," Them's "I Can Only Give You Everything" and a majestic show-closing version of The Moody Blues' "Go Now."

In addition to Babjak and Pinell on electric guitars, Reil on acoustic plus maracas and tambourine and Diken on the drums, bassist Vince Grogan (who plays on the Buzzed Meg CD) and a keyboardist filled out the six-member lineup. Hopefully they won't wait three years before playing again.

Buzzed Meg played in the middle of a three-band bill. The Safes, a band of three brothers from Chicago, opened the show with short, catchy songs that ranged from power-pop to punk. The band's non-sibling drummer recently quit, but instead of canceling their remaining dates, the brothers pressed on as a trio with guitarists Frankie and Patrick O'Malley splitting drum duties.

Closing out the night was the Anderson Council, with Reil moving back behind the drums to send the AC's Swinging London-inspired ditties into Keith Moon-esque overdrive. A cover of the Brit psych classic "My Friend Jack" by the Smoke was one of many highlights.

-- By Joe Belock

Posted by medleyville at January 5, 2005 05:45 PM
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