My first impression of the Running Gags was that there is a definite underlying mainstream ‘90’s influence involved. However, I also noticed that they really ripped it up as a band and individually. What was at first most striking was their high energy and EXCELLENT stage presence. From the guitarist’s rockin’ moves to the bassist’s exuberant slappin’ style they ensure the crowd pays attention and taps into the vibe; they obviously have a blast on stage. Their stage presence is really spot fucking on. The cover of I Am the Walrus was so fun and classic, and then the bassist’s ability to fluently sing Caress Me Down by Sublime (and switch from bass to guitar for this song) while continuing to rock the fuck out was seriously impressive.
As the show progressed, the seemingly ‘90’s sound segued into a really rockin’ sound with unique originals and even distinctly “Running Gag-ified” covers. Composing catchy originals can be difficult, but they do a good job of this, and I think the 90’s influence helps. The band quite literally manipulated the crowd into a frenzy, really had the enjoyment of the audience completely under their control… and they fucking delivered. The saxophonist and drummer were obviously talented and were just really tight with the overall sound and rhythm. The occasional jammed out moments when you could really appreciate the singular talents of each band member were great. Although the guitarist forgot the words to one of their songs, it ended up being a positive moment proving they don’t take themselves too seriously; I appreciate their ability to blatantly admit that they forgot and ended up filling in with an almost jazzy sounding improv. Equally enjoyable were the moments of raw intensity reminiscent of Green Day or other such almost punk-esque sounds. Some other covers included Queens of the Stone Age- No One Knows (Excellent.), Harvey Danger-Flagpole Sitta!, Bloodhound Gang (obviously straight up ridiculous), and even a kickass Alanis Morrisette cover to end the night. The only low moment of the show for me; a Maroon 5 cover… hurt just a little bit.
The most important emphasis is definitely their straight up talent, but even more so their playfulness, rapport, and interaction with the crowd….and possibly their ability to drink numerous mysterious shots that were delivered up to the stage… It really blew me away. Also, the guitarist and bassist often switched instruments on different songs. It was an interesting element that I am pretty curious about, but it really mixes things up and adds to the show overall. I dig that the band is structured, while also having the ability to feed off the flow of the show.
Collaborative review by Kim Morrison and Heather Omand