By Charlie Carroll
ArtsPost staff writer
While the Beatles are widely known as one of the most influential bands of all time, it’s fair to say that their music lacked that extra bit of gritty “umph” found in many harder rock bands. Enter Beatallica. Taking the general song structures and lyrics of Beatles songs and seamlessly blending them with demanding Metallica riffs and thrashing guitar solos, Beatallica creates a unique musical experience that will leave you craving for more mayhem. Supported by opening band Borracho, Beatallica rocked the backstage at The Black Cat this April 19 with the epic power of Lennon, McCartney, Hetfield and Hammett coursing through their veins.
Borracho opened the show on a somewhat lackluster note. For the most part, the band simply sounds like a generic and unfortunately uninspiring mixture of metal giants Down and Brand New Sin. The Washington-based band first came together in 2008 when members of local acts Adam West and Assrockers came together to experiment with a harder sound. The band released their first single, “Rectify,” on a 7” split with Adam West and has since then recorded a number of other songs for a release on the indie label No Balls.
The D.C. metal band opened to a small crowd (if one could even call it that) with two dedicated metalheads headbanging up front for their entire set. Despite their hard and heavy sound, the band appeared lifeless for the most part. With the occasional head nod and bounce the members showed little movement as they worked their way through their set. The lead guitarist, who looked like a retired Viking, showed the most enthusiasm, yet the music itself left much to be desired. Although the band marched through their set with general applause and approval from the audience, the crowd amounted to no more than 20 or so people who were simply waiting for Beatallica to take the stage.
Once Borracho finished, it was time for the real show. Donning regalia reminiscent of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover, the band took the stage and headed right into the song “The Battery of Jaymz and Yoko,” a clever, hard-hitting mix of Metallica’s “Battery” and Beatles’ “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” The lead singer Michael Tierney began bouncing up and down, belting out the lyrics in a voice that sounded eerily close to Metallica’s James Hetfield. As Tierney bounced up and down, lead guitarist Jeff Hamilton stood nonchalantly to his left, effortlessly manipulating the guitar neck to produce intricately ear-splitting solos.
The crowd quickly grew and began rocking out, completely in love with the marriage of the band’s hilarious lyrics and appearance with fast and heavy musical prowess. The dedication of their fans, affectionately known as Beatallibangers, explains how the band shot from obscurity into an international cult fan following nine years ago. After getting his hands on a copy of the group’s debut EP “A Garage Dayz Nite,” a Milwaukee fan made a web site for the band in 2001. The band gave the site its seal of approval the following year after meeting its creator and learning about all of the fan mail that had been sent to him. The viral internet phenomenon led the band to international tours and the release of their debut full-length album, “Sgt. Hetfield’s Motorbreath Pub Band” in 2007. They even recorded an album comprised entirely of renditions of the song “All You Need is Blood” in 13 different languages. In 2009 they released their second album “The Masterful Mystery Tour.”
The band dominated the stage with songs like “Sandman,” “Revol-ooh-tion,” and “Leper Madonna.” A few songs into the set the band members removed their jackets to reveal 1970s-style hippie dresses, with the bassist’s covered in marijuana leaves and the singer admittedly wearing one of his grandmother’s dresses.
Beatallica had the crowd singing along for such classics as the slow and brooding “Ktulu (He’s So Heavy),” and anthemic “Hey Dude.” In addition to these songs, the band also played a couple of songs that failed to make the cut for “Masterful Mystery Tour,” such as the eternally metal, yet wholly politically incorrect, “Please Please Me or I’ll Beat You.” Beatallica straddles the line of impropriety with their metal songs about partying and beer-drinking, but they do it successfully with a comical tongue-in-cheek style that is sure to ensnare and convert any music fan into a metalhead for a night.