Concert Review: The Bobby Lees/Ma’am/Dogboy @ No Fun, 04/08/2023

When the drummer from the band at the top of the bill set up his kit and then proceeded to casually reduce his stage outfit to just sneakers, tube socks and white briefs, I knew I had chosen the right show to cover on Saturday night.  He understood what we were in for and he dressed accordingly.  The Bobby Lees got right down to business and tore up the stage at No Fun in Troy with a ferocious non-stop set that left the crowd both wanting more and knowing that they had been given plenty.  Ma’aM and dogboy prepped the crowd, sharing a sold-out show that felt like three great headliners in a row.

Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

Sprung from Woodstock in 2018 with their striking debut Beauty Pageant, tighter and faster on 2020’s Skin Suit (produced by Jon Spencer) and evolving even further with 2022’s Bellevue (produced by Vance Powell), The Bobby Lees are selling out venues and gaining a reputation as a hard-hitting live band.  The aforementioned Macky Bowman’s tall, slim frame enveloped his drums, beating them into submission while no-nonsense bassist Kendall Wind drove the concise songs with a deep tone (even dropping in a hint of Rock Lobster at one point), and guitarist Nick Casa simply never stopped shredding.  Out front, Sam Quartin on guitar and fiery vocals conducted what felt like a furiously cathartic mass exorcism with the band’s gritty garage-punk-blues-rock assault.  Sam Quartin after the show: “Everyone was great, this stage was a little funny, we like to really run around, so I felt like an animal in a cage.”

Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

Quartin is also a busy indie film actress and can be seen in the new release Candy Land, written and directed by her partner John Swab and currently streaming.  I asked her if there was a big difference in the experience of making a movie compared to performing live.  Sam Quartin: “All day we’re waiting until we play, so it’s a similar kind of thing, a lot of preparing, and then you get those few moments of being completely present, but all the preparation to get to that place where you can do it is the same.”  I asked her if she saw herself still doing both music and films in 10 years.  Sam Quartin: “I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow!  I’m in today, I don’t know!” Ma’am, all seven of them populated the stage like a country-tinged flash mob making a joyful noise.  Raeli Rose on guitar and vox, Dusty the Kid on banjo, Jeremy Mertz on bass, Spencer McKee on drums, Nat (Quickdraw) Cutshall on harp, Daniel Thomas on bass trumpet and midriff-baring top and Tiger on guitar, vox and Derek Smalls hairstyle.  I was surrounded by multiple Ma’aM members outside the club after the show:  “ I call us County Junk.”   “We’ve been called Trashicana.”    “We’re punk rock meets country mixed with rock and roll mixed with all the American good stuff.”  “Really, we tell people we’re straightforward rock and roll; we don’t like to box ourselves in.”  “ We’re from central Pennsylvania, State College.”   “We’re working on a full-length album that should be out next year and a single that will hopefully be out this spring.”   “There’s technically 8 of us, tonight was just 7, the fiddle player isn’t here.”  “We’ve played on smaller stages; there’s a lot of smacking each other in the head with instruments.”  “We actually started out in DIY punk basement scenes which are very small, so it’s just like hitting people is fine, you know!”.  “I’m getting hit in the head with your bass stock all the time!”  “Bonked, bonked is the phrase.” 

Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

“We love Troy!”  “We like coming here ‘cause it’s all rock and roll centric, there’s good clubs.”  ”This is a nice community-people like good music here, and it means a lot when people pay attention, I think that people were resonating with it tonight.”  “We’re not on tour-this was just a one-off. We just love Troy.” “Tex, who’s bartending in there, and Hey Greasy brought us up here.”  “Yeah, he’s just like clutch to this town!”  “Write that down: Ma’am loves Tex and The Brule County Bad Boys!- end quote!”

The band are presenting their 3rd annual Burning Ma’am Festival in Woodward, Pennsylvania, on May 20-well worth a road trip!

dogboy (real name: Jordan Roque,  actually boyish and not in the least bit doggish) after his very impressive and promising opening set:  “This is my first dogboy show with friends I pulled together.   It felt really good for a first show, my intention going into it was to really to try to reach the hearts of people, it’s easy to go up there and be automatic and do the things that make it look like it’s a good show, but I really wanted to delve deep in myself and have that feeling come out through my guitar and touch people.” 

Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

“I lived in NYC briefly with my old punk band Hairbag, but I moved back up to the Kingston area about a year ago and started dogboy.  Sam from The Bobby Lees got us on this bill.  I feel like generally we would be classified as indie or something, but it’s definitely a lot more intense than that.”

“Sound is really visual to me, so I kinda just like to create from there.  I’m a Reiki practitioner as well, so I also try to channel that energy out there.  Yeah, once the music started, I just got into this really intense place within myself and just kind of rode that wave with the people tonight.”

dogboy is currently recording an album. 

Photo Gallery of The Bobby Lees by Leif Zurmuhlen

Photo Gallery of Ma’am by Leif Zurmuhlen

Photo Gallery of Dogboy by Leif Zurmuhlen

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