The group of females gathered in front of the stage while the Irving Klaws tore through a blazing set at Mohawk Place on Friday evening told you everything you needed to know about the band.
The girls moved in a frenzied fashion, like ecstatic go-go dancers with a dash of the free-form Deadhead thrown in, though one guesses this lot wouldn’t particularly appreciate such a comparison.
That’s the Klaws right there, a celebration of ’60s garage rock, surf music and rockabilly, played with the attitude and energy of punk rock. It’s music you can move to – in fact, it all but demands that you move to it – but the steps of that dance are not exactly formal.
Friday’s show was both celebration of the release of the band’s new disc, “Demon Tarts,” and a party for “the end of the world,” based on the Mayan Myth which would’ve had Armageddon arriving right about the time the band took the stage. It didn’t happen. Instead, we were offered a searing set of Klaws music, highlighted by a full, in-order rendering of “Demon Tarts.”
Though the house was not quite sold out – Friday marked the arrival of the first full-on Buffalo snow of the season – the assembled clearly adored the Klaws and warmly received the debut of the new material.
Dave Guitierrez, (guitar/vocals/theremin) Rob Peltier, (upright bass/vocals) and Bob Hanley (drums/vocals) formed in the late ’90s, and represent (along with Girlpope, Bobo, the Old Sweethearts, Semi-Tough, and a few others) the most vibrant generation of bands to have made Mohawk Place their center of operations. It’s fitting that, as the club prepares to shut its doors Jan. 12, the Klaws arrived to celebrate the release of their most fully actualized and compelling studio recording. “Demon Tarts,” recorded in Buffalo by Scott Carpenter & the Real McCoys/Roger Bryan and the Orphans guitarist Matt Smith, reveals the Klaws to be for Buffalo what the Cramps were for the New York City club scene of the late 1970s – a dynamic, eminently lovable blend of punk and psychobilly aimed at the head, the heart and the funnybone.
After roughly 30 minutes of material culled from throughout its career, the band tore into “Teenage Heat,” the opening “Demon Tarts” track. This was a burning bit of punkified garage rock, bolstered by fat power chords from Guitierrez’ Gibson SG, which was played clean and very loud through a Fender amp set to stun level. Peltier, a master of the slapped upright bass style favored by the likes of Jimbo Wallace of the Reverend Horton Heat, locked in with drummer Hanley, propelling the grove and punctuating it with a muscular descending line.
The hilarious lyric of “New Way To Meet Girls” was shared by Guitierrez and Peltier, while “Under the Bed In A Box” sounded like a less druggy outtake from the Stooges fabled “Funhouse” album. Once again, Guitierrez’s power chord shuffle made the music move on this tune.
“Revenge of the Demon Tarts” marked the first use of the theremin, which lent an air of sci-fi movie otherworldliness to the track – which sounded like the theme to a psychotic beach movie, with Frankie and Annette played by impossibly good-looking zombies. “I’m the Charm” was perhaps the highlight of the show, it’s mildly creepy air of twilit Roy Orbison grandeur evolving into a full-blown punkabilly rave-up buy the song’s end.
The Irving Klaws helped ease the pain of Mohawk Place’s impending closing on Friday, while simultaneously sharing some fantastic new material with old and new fans. The band will return for the club’s closing festivities on Jan. 11.
“Demon Tarts” is available through the band’s Facebook page, or at Record Theatre and Spiral Scratch.