Article and Photos by: Steven Principato
Jersey City, NJ – Fortunate to be one of the inaugural line-ups to take the still immaculate stage of Jersey City’s recently opened White Eagle Hall, The Death Valley Girls and Roky Erickson bill proved to be an epic show for this promising new venue, the first of it’s kind for the musically starved urban hot-spot in over a decade.
Opening the night before the legendary headliner, traveling all the way from the congested freeways of Los Angeles, rather than the blazing salt flats of Death Valley as stated In their name, these echo park scene-sters proved they were up for the task. Bringing forth a reverb soaked guitar twang above a sinister and ominous surf beat, only substituting the crashing pacific waves with the scorching asphalt upon a bleak and dusty sea of barren sand, where whisky and guns, fast cars and fast women, and murder, mayhem and meth are law. Powered by a familiar and accessible lo-fi, no frills sound fit for garages of all sizes in the L.A. sprawl, these gals kept the songs simple and mean. Keeping true to that switch-blade slinging girl-gang theme, The Death Valley Girls (including one guy on guitar) dazzled the breathless audience with their solid, outgoing, and rather playful performance that heavily emphasized audience interaction to the delight of those chosen. Careful, the girls might choose you next.
To the music geeks, audiofiles, high fidel-ites, vinyl collectors, and horror fans and acid heads alike, the headliner needed little introduction. Many others may know him from a heartfelt Netflix documentary covering his turbulent past and ultimate recovery, which most certainly paved the way for his reignited success in the past decade. Austin’s own Roky Erickson, legendary front man of Psychedelic pioneers, The 13th Floor Elevators, and a number of “Horror/Sci-Fi” themed rock projects through the 70’s and 80’s gleefully emerged upon the stage, flanked by a dedicated and highly talented group of young musicians, determined to keep Roky’s sound and legend alive. Despite the physical barriers that limited the singer’s historically renown guitar style, Roky let nothing get in his way when it came to doing what he’s always loved, and the set list and performance gave testimony. Delivering a satisfying assortment of his bizarre sci-fi themed classics by the likes of “Sputnik” and “White Faces” to his more familiar 13th Floor Elevators tracks such as “You’re Gonna Miss Me”, complete with signature Jug player, naturally…
Finishing the set with an satisfying encore, Roky and crew left the deeply grateful house in high spirits. Roky is currently on a U.S. tour that wraps up on Halloween in San Francisco, naturally, as Roky wouldn’t have it any other way.