Thursday is Big Ass Beer night at Scout Bar, when $2 will buy you a tall, curvaceous glass of generic domestic beer. That’s not an advertisement but a disclaimer for the following review. Rock ’n’ roll is the opposite of the Olympics: Performance-enhancing drugs work better on the audience.
Seven Board, who’ve billed tonight as a “CD release party,” provide a great soundtrack for binge-drinking discount Budweiser — easy to digest, with a driving beat to keep your head off the table, and lyrics that echo your own depressant-fueled thoughts.
Alcohol and the assorted pains it causes and/or alleviates are probably Seven Board’s favorite subjects. Songs called “Wasted,” “Crashing Down,” and “Cold Beer” populate the set list, but “Otherside”(the opener from the two-song disc the band gives out in exchange for an email address) is the king of Seven Board’s beer songs, though ironically enough, vocalist Garrett Gale claims he doesn’t touch the stuff.
“Big-ass fucking beers for $2,” Gale says. “If I drank beer I’d already have had 19.”
Regardless of what’s in Gale’s glass (“This ain’t water,” he offers, holding up a dark-brown drink. “This right here, this is the curse”), “Otherside” suggests “taking this one drink at a time”— advice that might save the guzzlers from an activated-charcoal smoothie, but suggesting you “take your time to prioritize/ Everything about your wasted life” might be enough to make you dilute your beer with saline, Hank Williams-style. Musically, it’s 100-percent radio-friendly, calculatedly recycling grunge’s gruff vocals and caustic riffs the same way hipsters refashion its dingy thrift store druggie look into meticulously styled bedhead and factory-distressed denim.
It’s the same trick that Cr—d, N—b—k, and other bands not worth mentioning are so despised for, but Seven Board offers more interesting lyrics and some art-metal flourishes (also known as the Placebo effect). Tool seems to be an obvious reference point, and the influence culminates in “Your Cross,” on which Gale warns an unspecified subject “I’m going to make you realize that you’re not Christ” with Maynard James Keenan-like blasphemous glee, but concludes “You’re my savior” in a resignation that suggests more about the difficulty of depending on another human than it does the futility of faith in god.
Listening to “Father’s Son” with the volume cranked up might ease alcohol-induced abandonment issues and Oedipal impulses enough to avert a drunken call home: “I am not my father’s son,” Gale insists, “I am better. … I will never be like you, you old man.”
But on “Otherside,” Seven Board’s mastery of the radio-rock formula seems like it’s employed to trick audience members into a moment of clarity via drunken sing-along.
“Hello, my name is fill in the blank,” goes the chorus, “and I am an alcoholic.” You’d be tempted to accuse Seven Board of working as undercover agents for Mothers Against Drunk Driving if it weren’t for the next line’s bummed out resignation — “and I will always be this way/ A liar and a thief/ a boozer and a cheat” — or Gale’s mid-show enabling taunt: “I don’t know if y’all are drunk enough yet!”
Get that way, or get some help. Seven Board seem to be suggesting both simultaneously, but be warned: Mileage may vary when you’re sober. — Jeremy Martin