To fully understand the true George Elliot Underground experience, one must feel the electric intensity that permeates from the stage at any of their live performances. Take for instance August 28, 2010, a balmy Saturday night at The Basement in Columbus, OH, a club not far from the band’s base of operation.
The small bar buzzes eagerly as the GEU take the stage in front of an already fervent and inebriated crowd who were beyond warmed up and practically begging the group to turn things up to 11. Kicking off with a ferocious rendition of Attack of the Lightningbird Pt. 11, the song’s opening lines take a sinister turn. Vocalist Matt Zab is no longer inviting us to put our love in his hands, he is warning us that if we find ourselves bruised and battered at the end of this rock & roll show – it’s our own fault. He’s just a rolling stone and we should have known that coming in.
The band then delves straight into I.N.K and its searing guitar lead proves more spine-tingling than any studio-recorded version could ever hope to contain. The excitement of their show nearly proves to be too much for a group of overly intoxicated blonde girls, who slurred along with vocalist Matt Zab, improvising their own versions of his lyrics and ensuring that the venue floor is properly coated in a frothy layer of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
After two songs from the new EP, the quintet treat the crowd to the summer anthem Love in the Morning, an enormous tune whose chorus deserves to have a backing-vocal of at least thirty-thousand arena attendees at every show they play. The crowd roars in approval, a wave of “whoa-oa’s” sailing out across the out-stretched arms of passionate fans before crashing back upon the band themselves.
Only three songs into the show the unrelenting Underground’s performance is threatening to turn hazardous. Bodies are flying, booze is spilling, and the support beams holding the bar’s roof in place are beginning to sway. Do they heed these warnings and turn down the amps, play an acoustic number and disperse complimentary bottles of water to the simmering audience?
Nay. They each take a quick chug from their respective bottles and storm through a catalog of generation-spanning timeless rock & roll nuggets, including the cocky, hip-shaking Man You Need, and Summer of Weird track Bier Stube, in which Zab casually informs the crowd that if they wanted to keep the show going, the next round was on them. GEU deliver the straight-forward Mooney Suzuki-esque rock of Walk On and the head-banging funk metal stomp of Welcome to Battlethorne Castle with the kind of swagger that only a great band in their youthful prime can possibly conjure up.
As the home-stretch of the show sets in, the George Elliot Underground opts to open things up a bit by jamming out January One with the showmanship and technicality of an early Lynrd Skynrd, drummer Brian Mayes pummeling his kit through a deafening series of drum rolls while a dual guitar onslaught tears at the face-flesh of everyone in attendance.
Surveying the drenched state of the crowd and his own band, Zab unbuttons his shirt much to the delight of the aforementioned blonde posse who howl in delight and climb upon the security barrier, attempting to lick glistening sweat from his exposed midriff in a act of pure idol worship. He gives the signal and GEU launch into their final tune, a fast-paced version of the Chuck Berry classic, Johnny B. Goode, a sonic victory lap celebrating the effort of a finely-tuned, five-headed rock Adonis, a performance nearly evangelical in it’s delivery.
Written By Alex Mosie