I'm sure Mexico's The Copper Gamins have played some tough gigs on both sides of the border, no doubt. But playing a Tuesday night gig at a cocktail bar that is in no way designed to accommodate a live band, well, I'm sure it posed a unique challenge for the blues duo. Squeezed into a nook regrettably located between the back door and the bathrooms, guitarist/singer J. Carmen and drummer Claudio Miguel huddled together as closely as their instruments allowed, looking to stay out of the way of foot traffic. It had all the makings of a rough gig, but the Gamins were not to going to let a little awkward placement spoil things.
Following a rather polite introduction, the pair bashed into their first track, the makeshift PA straining to push Carmen's vocals to all corners of the bar's high ceilings. Noisy and at times a bit unhinged, the Gamins tore through a handful of tracks from their full-length debut Los Niños De Cobre (they had released a self-titled EP in 2012). Miguel's plodding drum rolls pushed through nearly every song transition, leaving little to no breaks for applause.
By the time the boys tore into an unruly cover of the Blues Brother's "New Orleans," it was clear the band didn't lack for blues pedigree. Specifically, the garage blues the Gamins deal in brought to mind the lo-fi side of The Rolling Stones and, to a larger degree, pre-Danger Mouse Black Keys. Mostly though, they sounded like early White Stripes, a comparison driven home by Miguel's minimalist drum attack and Carmen's distortion-laced riffing.
The Gamins finally hit their stride with "You Keep Around," an elephant-sized stomper that might as well be their "Seven Nation Army." Miguel and Carmen didn't relent, barnstorming through at least a couple more tracks before closing on their most hard-charging jam of the night — an instrumental clearly intended to end things with a bang. As the feedback subsided and the Gamins unplugged, I checked my watch. They had been on for about 30 minutes, certainly short considering they were the only band of the night. But the duo had made their statement loud and clear (well, mostly loud). It would have been incredible to see this set in a more optimal setting with a home team crowd, but here's to the pair for working well with what they were given.