BROOKLYN’S THE SULTAN ROOM HOSTED DAMN JACKALS THIS WEEKEND AS THEY CELEBRATED NEW EP, “RIVALS”
This Saturday was a hot one in New York City, and an hour or so of mid-afternoon rain soaked the air with sidewalk steam. It was one of those weekends, overcast and heavy, that really seemed to say, “Oh yeah, summer’s here.” But just across the East River, the pavement is just a little cooler and the streets are just a little wider: Brooklyn welcomes local weekenders to its colorfully muralled streets, tree-lined neighborhoods, and a ton of music.
One such musical mecca is Bushwick’s The Sultan Room, a two-pronged venue featuring an eclectic, kitschy Turkish eatery just through the double doors of a late-night music hall. Celebrating their first ever vinyl release Rivals (EP premiered with Glasse), was garage glam band Damn Jackals. For frontman Beau Croxton the show doubled as an epic birthday bash.
Headliners for the night, Damn Jackals followed a pretty stellar lineup of supporting acts on Saturday. As a growing audience of Brooklyners slowly trickled in over the course of the night, the Sultan stage saw opening performances from Brooklyn’s own Skye Matlock, Cinci stoner jazz quintet Sylmar, and the deeply soulful, ‘70s revival ensemble Abby Jeanne––who, I must say, at the risk of veering off topic, absolutely filled the venue with rich, ferevent, and profound musical mastery on every account.
But I digress, as Damn Jackals, too, put on a commendable show. After a slightly awkward start––volume issues with his mic and amp had Croxton distracted––Jackals seemed to get their bearings a bit with “Street Magic,” a top-played song off of their 2018 album Crooked Castle, Vol. 1. Croxton assured his audience that to combat the unfortunate audio issues, he’d just make sure to sing that much harder.
Indeed, the staggeringly tall lead singer accomplished an impressive feat of vocal endurance, especially since his instrumental backup seemed to only get louder and heavier with every song. But before the real ruckus started hammering, Jackals gave a stellar performance of “Lovely Nuthin’,” the first of three songs on Rivals. Croxton’s vocals were sharp and his guitar managed the surf-rock riffs with ease––a crucial feature of that song.
After “Lovely Nothin’” things got pretty heavy, pretty fast. While tracks like “Swoon” (also on Rivals), whose gritty garage fundamentals are complemented by a loud, heavy style of performance play, some of the other, more complicated tracks felt overwhelmed and stifled by brash loudness. “Stick Em’ Up” and “Freezing Blues,” for example, were delivered with raw musical confidence, yet ultimately felt smothered by sheer audio volume. For these bluesy, jazzy, and slightly folk-infused punk tracks, Damn Jackals were joined by a female vocalist and brass duo on trumpet and saxophone––unfortunately, however, the full force of what were clearly incredibly talented musicians felt slighted.
But on the whole, Damn Jackals’ performance was well executed, animated, and built positively on an energized crowd who were clearly excited to see them. They ended what was truly a celebratory set with newest single “New Broke City,” calling out in reverie to their fellow Brooklyners, late-nighters, and music fanatics. Friends of the band seemed to saturate the venue with support, and after the show band members mingled with concertgoers over drinks, small talk, and cigarettes. Accolades to Sean McCann, whose reserved stage presence countered those of his more-spirited bandmates, but whose three-part contribution on guitar, keys, and vocals was a modest, yet hard-fought and impressive showing. The Jackals were missing drummer Max Goehler, but a talented friend filled in without a hitch.
You can stream Rivals now on all platforms and stay connected with Damn Jackals on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, and Instagram.