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Review of Adam West/BellRays gig in Snap Pop! magazine - June 2001

Adam West and The BellRays - Metro Café - April 24 2001
Jake Starr is D.C.'s provocateur of Detroit-style punk rock. His band, Adam West, has been playing in the area for more than eight years, and he maintains a great web site and record label. Starr was up for a WAMMIE for vocals this year and is a one-man promotion machine for keeping old school punk rock alive in the D.C area. Adam West has been prolific of late, releasing three records (CDs and 7-inches) in the last several months. This show with the BellRays was the first of a two-nighter for both bands, who played together the following night at the Ottobar in Baltimore.

The Metro was a bit over half full throughout the night, which is actually a better situation than when this smaller, intimate venue is full. I had never seen Adam West before but had heard some of their stuff from friends, and was impressed at how they seem to keep the spirit of Iggy and the Stooges, the MC5, and '60s garage-rock alive. Another Metro denizen commented to me that Starr reminded him of an enthusiastic David Johansson. The set was high-energy pre-hardcore punk, and visually interesting. The highlight was the last song of the set, the Ramones' "Psycho Therapy," dedicated to the recently-departed King of Punk, Joey Ramone.

The BellRays' set was phenomenal. They sang about revolution and social and racial harmony, the blues, and hard living. They bill themselves as "Maximum Rock and Soul." Five songs into their set I realized that this band explores the spirit, energy, and sound of Detroit rock like nothing I have heard, sounding like a combination of Motown soul, gospel, the Stooges first two albums, and the MC5's 1967 Kick Out the Jams (proto-punk and Sun Ra-like street-oriented psychedelic jazz). I was surprised to learn they were from L.A. Because the show was on a Tuesday night, some of the crowd thinned-out. The BellRays didn't stop playing for 70 minutes, segueing between songs in avant-garde noise fashion, and before you knew it they were into another original garage rock classic. Most of those who stayed for the whole set ended up waiting in line at the merchandise table, happily buying stuff and talking to singer Lisa Kekaula.

by Cameron M. Weber, Snap Pop!, June 2001


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