SAN FRANCISCO — East Bay natives Peter Hayes and Robert Been of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are very hard to put into a box.
For a few songs they’re a psychedelic rock band, led by Been’s deep, hypnotic vocals and silhouetted by extremely bright strobe lights. Then suddenly Hayes is on the mic and they’re a hard rock band. Southern rock turns to alt rock turns to garage rock.
The band’s instrumentation at the Fillmore on Wednesday didn’t even stay consistent throughout the show. Drummer Leah Shapiro stayed in place, occasionally contributing backing vocals, but Been and Hayes frequently switched instruments and duties. Been opened on bass with Hayes on guitar, until they switched. For a while Been was on electric guitar with Hayes playing an acoustic. He occasionally donned a harmonica, and Been spent a song at a piano. Hayes had a solo acoustic country song at one point.
It could have been jarring, especially with essentially no stage banter aside from the requisite “we’re honored to be playing the Fillmore” speech every band seems to give, but it never was. Everything flowed through all the changes and held up as a cohesive show, and that’s the something Black Rebel Motorcycle Club fans have come to expect.
The very enthusiastic crowd certainly seemed to have its favorites, though. Skewing a bit more toward middle age, the embarrassing mom dancing and awkward dad shuffles definitely hit a crescendo during the louder, harder songs. While many diehards sang every word to every song, and there were quite a few, side conversations about Survivor (“oh my God, can you believe they tied!”) and interest rates could be overheard during some slower numbers.
Those who decided to chat were missing out. When the band slowed it down, Been’s, Hayes’ and Shapiro’s musicianship really shined, with Been especially standing out on bass, something that’s not at all easy to do.
Opening the show was Restavrant, composed of singer-guitarist Troy Murrah and drummer Tyler Whiteside. They’re punk—if not exactly in sound, then definitely in ethos. Whiteside’s drum kit, for example, was made up of what appeared to be trash, including a five-gallon bucket and at least one bent license plate. While it didn’t make the most sense it was absolutely entertaining.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.