It’s a dirty job

The Dead Romantics, Vext Intent and others rock for the Devil Kat Rock Fest

LOUD, HARD AND DIRTY <br>From left: Singer/bassist Elvis DeBlack, drummer Drew Besnard and guitarist Orion Karsch of The Dead Romantics play at LaSalles.

From left: Singer/bassist Elvis DeBlack, drummer Drew Besnard and guitarist Orion Karsch of The Dead Romantics play at LaSalles.

Photo By Nick Caldwell

Review: Devil Kat’s Rock Fest with Watson 349, The Ugly Stick, The Dead Romantics and Vext Intent. Fri., June 2, at LaSalles.

Someone kicked a black shoe across the stage, just missing Dead Romantics guitarist Orion Karsch as the small crowd on the dance floor pressed closer to the lip of the stage and thick air flowed out of the fog machine, masking the smell of stale alcohol.

Though The Dead Romantics didn’t headline local booker and promoter Katie Perry’s birthday bash, the band made quite an impression.

Perry, who operates Devil Kat Rock Productions, brought together a few of her favorite bands Friday night at LaSalles, although none of them sang her “Happy Birthday.” They did, however, play some of that rock music.

First on stage was the reggae-meets-Beach Boys sound of Watson 349 (featuring members of Cochino and local Misfits cover band We Bite). Then The Ugly Stick’s one-man comedy act took the stage and was reminiscent of Adam Sandler. Both did a fine job of easing the crowd into The Dead Romantics’ and Vext Intent’s pounding sets.

Local metalheads Vext Intent, who headlined the shindig, proceeded to pack the dance floor. For fronting a metal band, lead singer Dave Kresy had a surprisingly good voice, when audible over the bass. Overall the performance paralleled any ordinary rock concert: Screaming, shirtless band members and sing-a-longs.

The Dead Romantics, however, turned out to be the most fun of the evening. Singer and bassist Elvis DeBlack said he didn’t expect a big turnout, especially after losing an integral band member just four days before the show. The Dead Romantics fired one of their guitarists due to a difference in sound: The band wanted dirt, and the guitarist wanted metal.

“I’m into dirty rock. I don’t necessarily care about doing good; it’s a rock show, it’s not a rock performance,” DeBlack said.

And rock The Dead Romantics did.

DeBlack jumped around stage as sweat streamed down his face; drummer Drew Besnard exposed his pearly whites but never cracked a smile; and guitarist Orion Karsch posed for pictures with his mom while he played. The band had a good time working the crowd and thrashing around the stage, but the most dedicated fan was Laurel Karsch, Orion’s mom.

“They get very loud,” she warned as she pulled neon orange earplugs out of a plastic baggie.

She never misses a show, and when she can’t make it Dad shows up: “Whenever they play, we’re here.” As her son rocked out, Mom twirled and rocked on the wooden dance floor, her cell phone open with Dad on the other end.

The Dead Romantics may be a baby of a band (they’re just over a year old), but Orion and DeBlack have been involved with many different projects, including Valentine and Dirty Jim and the Violators.

The Dead Romantics may come together and make listeners’ sternums vibrate, but it seems the band doesn’t care to make it big. “I’m happy about all the music. We like it because of what it is. I’m not trying to be famous,” DeBlack said.

The Dead Romantics’ style, as categorized by their MySpace page, is “punk/alternative rock.” DeBlack said he prefers “dirty rock, almost pop rock with a lot of distortion.”

Whether you call it dirty rock or dirty pop, The Dead Romantics put on a good show, even for those who don’t usually listen to screaming bands.

The band members also came to the performance with a message, and the white writing on their black T-shirts said it all: “Defend New Orleans.”

In the middle of the shaking, screaming and slamming on stage, DeBlack stopped and went into a diatribe on how the American government sent more funding to Iraq than to Americans in New Orleans.

Then the shrieking commenced and didn’t stop until the final song, “Genocide.”