Side Hustle, Andrew Scotchie & the River Rats at Hooch and Hive: BRILLIANT
Have you ever been on a magic carpet ride? Well, I have. In fact, I’m still on it. This particular ride began a week ago with an astonishing performance by King Crimson at Ruth Eckerd Hall and an equally astonishing performance later that night by NOW VS NOW at Dunedin Brewery (July 22). Add to that two best-ever sets (I so declare) by Guavatron and The Reality (July 24) at The Funky Biscuit.
Now you can tack on two more. Side Hustle from Jacksonville blew out a brilliant set at Hooch and Hive Friday (July 30) as part of their album-release mini-tour for LIBERATION. And Andrew Scotchie & the River Rats opened with a delightful all-out rock show.
I’m on the magic carpet, and I have absolutely no desire to get off!
Side Hustle and Andrew Scotchie & the River Rats had just played a spirited show at Tuffy’s Bottle Shop and Lounge in Sanford on Thursday and brought the party to Hooch and Hive in Tampa Friday. They closed out the mini-tour Saturday at 1904 Music Hall in Jacksonville.
This was our first visit to Hooch and Hive, and we loved it. Food, beverages, and service were all deluxe. You could sit inside at the bar, outside at the bar, inside at tables and booths, outside at tables, or just stand up. It was a very inviting space.
My [regular] comment was about the sound. Sound checks by both bands were much too loud, and some of the house music playing was unnecessarily loud. I love “Can’t Me Hear You Knocking” as much as anyone, but there is no need to blast it so loud that conversation with your table mates or bartenders is difficult to impossible. Sound for the two bands was better but still could have been dialed back from 9 to 8. OK, now tell that funny joke. HAHAHAHA. Man, is that funny or what? Or what, actually.
[The funny joke is: if it’s too loud, you’re too old. See? That’s solid gold right there.]
We knew nothing about Andrew Scotchie & the River Rats, but their sound check indicated they would be great. That would be an understatement. This Asheville band came to rock, and rock they did. Their set included five of the six tracks from last year’s Everyone Everywhere, the title track and one more from Family Dynamo (2018), two great covers, and several other songs in their repertoire.
Leader Scotchie is a dynamo indeed, playing guitar and singing lead vocals; Keith Harry on bass, gloves, and backing vocals; and Logan Jayne on drums. Scotchie had changed into a sleeveless red sequined top that screamed rock and roll. Harry wore gloves, which seemed to work just fine with the bass slapping and playing.
Scotchie’s vocals are perfect for all-out rock, opening with “Never Alone.” After a powerful “Natural Romantic,” they shot into “Crosstown Traffic” and did Hendrix proud. That segued into “Funny Money,” featuring a great space bass solo from Harry. Scotchie dedicated “Riverside” to Asheville and then bounded around the room during his guitar solo very effectively.
All the while, d was pounding out furious rock on his drum kit, driving the band on every track along with Harry. “Human Too” featured some masterful trippy guitar and a killer jam. They mixed some serious funk in with the wailing rock, making for a great show. Time for one more? You bet. They pulled out all the stops on “Rock n Roll Will Set Your Soul Free.” Shortly into the song, Scotchie put his guitar down and unzipped what looked like a cigar box-National steel hybrid from its case. It was awesome! (I could use some more of that!)
Welcome to Tampa, River Rats and Scotchie!
[AS&tRR: Never Alone, Natural Romantic, Crosstown Traffic (Hendrix) > Funny Money, Love Like Fire, Riverside, Everyone Everywhere, Human Too, Stone Cold Crazy (Queen), Everyday Victories, Fear-Mongers, I’ve Got the Keys, Family Dynamo, Rock n Roll Will Set Your Soul Free]
There was a very short break before Side Hustle took the stage. Drummer Aaron Plotz was unable to make this run due to illness. What’s a band to do? I’m sure it happens elsewhere as well, but in Florida you reach out to the vast musical community to find a substitute. Anton LaPlume only had to reach across town for one of the best drummers anywhere: Brandon Howell. He pulls double-duty with Wigeon (formerly Ben Strok & Full Electric) and Firewater Tent Revival, but fortunately his calendar allowed him to fill in. He absorbed all of the material in two days! The best tribute you can offer is that the show was seamless and that NOBODY would have known that Howell wasn’t the regular drummer. BRAVO!
Howell and bass player Sean Thomas crushed the entire evening. This band is a real powerhouse. LaPlume is an excellent guitarist and fine singer, and in Billy Begley they have one of the best keyboard players ANYWHERE.
Begley’s reggae-ish piano helped establish the syncopated feel of “The Temptress 2.” The band featured all seven tracks from LIBERATION, one new tune, and two fine covers. Begley’s nasty clavinet established the funk bona fides of “Living for the Day,” a killer tune with superb three-part harmonies (LaPlume, Thomas & Begley), and a fine pitch-and-catch with guitar and clavinet.
“Destitute,” the first single released in advance of the album, was awesome, enhanced by a fine drum feature from Howell, and the second single, “Bounce,” offered a joyous dance groove, and that yielded to some very spacey funk, absolutely fabulous. That was new tune “Fed Up,” destined for the next album, and LaPlume was superb on guitar. Thomas handled vocals on “Good Times,” a song that benefited from Begley’s coloring with organ and synths. The jam headed into a very funky and hard-rocking interpretation of “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2.” And that slid into “Alpha Draconis,” the dynamic first track from LIBERATION, with a fine bass solo.
Drums and piano introduced “Street Walker,” which began with a distinct Latin vibe before it blew up. LaPlume worked “Birdland” in there for a couple choruses, and Begley’s synths were otherworldly. Hell, yes, we’re screaming for an encore! Out poured a monster cover of “Living for the City.” LaPlume’s vocals were just right, Howell and Thomas were monsters, and Begley absolutely NAILED that synth part at the end of each chorus going into the next stanza. His electric piano work was magnificent.
[SIDE HUSTLE: The Temptress 2, Living for the Day, Destitute, Bounce > Fed Up > Bounce, Good Times > Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2 > Alpha Draconis, Street Walker; E: Living for the City]
These are two great bands that deserve your attention. Check them out online, see them in person, buy their merchandise!
Also, you just never know what might pop up!