Lovin’ that hard stuff

Sac United’s hometown Whiskey Rebels still know how important it is for the kids to rock

Whiskey Rebels, shakin’ some action at their fave all-ages venue, the Capitol Garage.

Whiskey Rebels, shakin’ some action at their fave all-ages venue, the Capitol Garage.

Live! 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 5 at Capitol Garage, 1427 L St., with All or Nothing, Subject of Us and the Broke, $5, all ages.

Politicians sure love to rope sinners into picking up the tab for public projects. Even back in 1791, when Alexander Hamilton figured the easiest way to help subsidize the building of what would become Washington, D.C., was to levy a tax on whiskey. Because those sophisticated, wine and port-swilling wigheads on the Eastern Seaboard wouldn’t touch the stuff, but the rowdy farmers and hillbillies of western Pennsylvania would, made it convenient. And when those mash-drinking Pennsylvanians figured out they were getting screwed by the gummint for knocking back the hard stuff, they got pissed off. It took President Washington and Hamilton riding into battle with 13,000 troops behind them to put down the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794.

Lesson: Never mess with a whiskey drinker.

Those early American imbibers’ valor inspired a song called “Whiskey Rebels” from a local band, which later changed its name to the same, thus making that song their theme. It’s the first track on the album Whiskey Rebels, a 16-track album released last June that rocks like, well, a bunch of rowdies who just got ordered to switch from Wild Turkey to Zima.

Put simply, this five-piece band pounds—hard. The noise the Rebels make isn’t “punk” in the corporate-alternative, which hair care products should I use, Blink 182 sense; think what a boozed-up bunch of punters at a Man United match might sound like if it was singing along with double-speed Ramones. Put more simply, Oi!, American style.

Unlike the more political Oi! bands from Britain, however, the Rebels’ songs—group efforts, penned by braw-throated vocalist Big Chuck Gladwyn, guitarists Drew Boyce and Nate Alexander, affable bassist Jimmy Calanchini and drummer Nate Daskalos—namecheck Sacramento life, painting a picture of loving, fighting and tilting a fifth or two right here in the River City.

Whiskey Rebels have been kicking around Sacramento for the past three and a half years; before then, they were known as the Statutories. “When we started the band, three of the band members were 16 years old,” says Calanchini, who adds that the band’s former singer took an American History class, then wrote a song about the Whiskey Rebellion as a school project. Hence the name.

They play around quite a bit, but if you only get your local rock ’n’ roll fix at Old Ironsides, you likely won’t see them in action. “We play almost exclusively all-ages shows,” Calanchini explains. “We’ve got a lot of friends and fans who are under 21. I mean, we did our time in the bars—we’ve played the Distillery, we’ve played the Press Club. But we really don’t like to anymore; we like to do all-ages shows. Capitol Garage is always a winner for us. We love that place more than anywhere else in town—our CD-release, which we did back in June, was an absolute blast. We piled like six bands on the bill, and they were all local bands, except for one.”

Other fave venues include WCWW here and Burnt Ramen Studios—“kind of a non-p.c. version of Gilman Street,” Calanchini says—in Richmond, and the Beer Olympics in Atlanta. The latter event came to the Rebels’ attention because the annual two-day punk-hardcore festival is put on by G.M.M. Records, the band’s Atlanta-based label.

“Playing Georgia is always a blast, Calanchini says. “It’s a big thing—like usually like over a thousand people come out, from all over the country. ‘Cause it’s a big stage, and we’re playing with some of our heroes and some of our idols, some of the biggest names in street punk.

“The most fun shows for me are the ones when the crowd can get into it,” Calanchini adds, “and the kids can run around, jump on the stage and sing, and jump off. The energy of 20 kids outshines a hundred people in a bar.”

While punk rock may be a cliché this late in the game, it’s nice to see at least one band still go at it like it was the real deal. Because it is.