There’s never enough Gin …

There was an invitation to meet for pre-show cocktails. Unfortunately, being a club-soda kinda guy, that wasn’t a real motivator in this case, as those grand times of abusing someone else’s expense account to get knee-walking stupid date back to the last time someone named Bush lived in the White House. And anyone living in Sacramento in the spring will understand the wisdom of not leaving the house: watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, asthmatic gasping—you get the picture.

But the call of live music was too much to ignore on a Thursday night. By the time I got to Old Ironsides, Las Pesadillas had finished up, and Forever Goldrush was nearing the end of its set. Damon Wyckoff and Mason DeMusey were sporting bright-red ECV caps, the hard-won prize from a long, putatively vile, secret hazing weekend ritual the weekend before. “It’s taken me days to get the smell out” was all Wyckoff would volunteer later about what he and DeMusey had endured in their quest to become members of E Clampus Vitus, a parody of fraternal organizations that dates back to the Gold Rush era.

Nadine Condon, the effusive lady behind Nadine’s Wild Weekend, and her two event co-organizers, had gone for pre-show drinks anyway, and by the time Victory Gin took the stage, Condon was in a very agreeable state. “I’m really blown away by this band!” she enthused, more than once.

Victory Gin was indeed good. Like Forever Goldrush, Victory Gin is a mountain band, from Placerville as opposed to Forever Goldrush’s Amador County point of origin. Both bands play rock ’n’ roll, but if Forever Goldrush has great songwriting to fall back on, Victory Gin, with its slightly less memorable material, has to work a bit harder to put those songs across which the quartet does rather well. Diminutive singer Devon Galley comes across like an edgier version of John Mellencamp, and his bandmates—guitarist Bryan Ritchie, bassist Dave Rapa and drummer Adam Richey—back him with the kind of clanging Gibson-powered instrumental wallop that’s served heartland rockers well over the years, from Lynyrd Skynyrd to the Black Crowes. The band played a number of tunes from its self-released CD Missiouri Flat, whose 11 longish songs tend to favor a slow build over the take-no-prisoners immediacy of power pop and punk. If the response of Condon and others were any indication, Victory Gin won’t be a regional secret for long.

The Slow Lorries followed. While their American take on Britpop sounded really good to these ears, watery eyes and the grim knowledge that Friday morning comes quickly prompted a too-hasty exit. But, there’s always next time.