Jazzfest in New Orleans brings together plenty of sit-ins, guest appearances, and a few late-night reunions. One of the latter took place on Saturday, May 6th in the Bywater living room known as BJ’s Lounge when the Rough Seven reunited for a gloriously powerful set of garage rocking, soul-fulfilling tunes.
Having been on hiatus for over three years the outfit came together with Mike Andrepont – drums, Stoo Odom – bass, Rob Cambre – guitar, Ratty Scurvics – keys, Rick Hukill – trombone, and frontman Ryan Scully – guitar and vocals. The group blasted into the night with a new song, “Orange Potatoes” which pumped up a heavy, ass-shaking/headbanging groove over blistering riffs and keys as Scully called out the veggies.
The band quickly welcomed the seventh member to the stage as Meschiya Lake joined to add fantastic vocal support for the rest of the show, just as she did on the outfit’s wonderful debut Give Up Your Dreams. “Had A Home” ebbed and flowed around the small bar as Scully and Lake blended perfectly together while “Golden Parachute” delivered huge drum/guitar breaks. The low end of Anderpont and Odom propelled the band constantly forward as Cambre deployed fretboard flares and sonic warbling.
That style of noise rock reached its zenith during “Meltdown” which hit the crescendo with feedback and trombone blares. The band delivered another new effort “Where’s My Phone” which had a Them “Gloria” sound before things hit an emotional peak on “Give Up Your Dreams” with guitars, keys, and duetting vocals all swirling in front of the bumping low end.
The elegant “St. Anthony” cooled things out around Scurvics keys only for a complete revamping of energy to explode during the groups cover of Etta James’ “I Would Rather Go Blind” which found Lake gorgeously belting out the words while the soulful noise swirled. The mix of gospel feeling and avant-garde rock sounds climbed around the cataclysmic “Preacher By Day” soaring into the screeching heavens.
The reunion would have been a screaming success if it ended there, but the closing cover of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” raised the bar impossibly high. Lake and Scully were impassioned advocates for everyone’s beauty as the band swelled bringing the whole collection to a higher plane, wrapping up the immensely successful show with a breathtaking performance.
The unique blend of gutter swirling punk/garage-based noise rock around freeform gospel-inspired vocals that dip into emotional heartache, modern-day societal problems and at times silly flights of fancy are still the magic that makes The Rough Seven a special collective. The joyful mixing of invigorating music and smiling faces on hand at BJ’s Saturday night was proof The Rough Seven still possess those traits which made them must-see in the past, here’s hoping future reunions are on the horizon.