The Vulgar Boatmen
The Upper Room
Saturday, Sept. 15
The Upper Room in Broad Ripple is a bit like stepping back in time to 1986, as filtered through Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities.” Packed full of proud Lexus owners and their trophy eye-candy, it was an unlikely scene for Saturday’s Vulgar Boatmen gig. It made for quite the contrast, with the stockbroker types dressed in suits and starched shirts still immaculate at midnight on a Saturday mingling with Boatmen fans in Sammy Terry and Alley Cat T-shirts.
Despite or maybe because of this, Dale Lawrence, who, for all intents and purposes is The Vulgar Boatmen, peeled off a surprisingly fun and rocking set with longtime comrade Matt Speake, who quit the band a couple years ago, but who has somehow forgotten to stop showing up for gigs, and former member Janas Hoyt, who was a mainstay in the early ’90s.
Speake’s electric fender jingle-jangle was a perfect accompaniment to Lawrence’s acoustic strumming, while Hoyt’s harmonizing added new dimensions of beauty to the songs. Running through much-loved songs like “You and Your Sister,” “Let’s Take Some Drugs and Drive Around” and “Mary Jane,” the trio displayed what a joy The Boatmen can be acoustically.
Equal parts Buddy Holly and Velvet Underground, the sparse arrangements actually add a quiet strength to the music. Hopefully, Lawrence and whoever decides to be in the band at any given time will do this sort of thing a bit more often and preferably in a place that is a little more conducive to The Boatmen’s off-kilter brand of rock and roll.