I haven’t seen The Monroes in at least a year, but their performance style hasn’t changed hardly at all, and that’s a good thing. Frontman Gary Dean Davis bounces around on stage just like he used to all the way back in the Frontier Trust days, finishing each tune with his trademark “Thanks!” yelled directly into the mic. Guitarist Lincoln Dickison still has that same laidback punk stance, ripping away at riffs seasoned with some tasty country pickin’, while bassist Mike Tulis and drummer Jesse Render provide the bedrock to make this punk tractor go. What has changed is The Monroes’ sound, specifically on the new numbers. Sure, the old standbys from the early days are as dusty and brutal as driving over a washboard in a Charger. But the new stuff, well, it’s closer to pure hard rock than punk, driven by Dickison’s more hook-filled, less-twangy riffs. Heck, there was even one song where everyone dropped it down, inviting a bit of crowd participation (which, this being Omaha, no one did, though Davis said the song got the crowd going at their last Lincoln gig). The Monroes continues to be one of Omaha’s most entertaining and original bands that is virtually unknown outside of our state — more evidence that when they’re talking about Omaha’s so-called national music notoriety, it all stops at Saddle Creek, at least in the media’s eyes, and that’s a shame.
The Monroes arrived late, so singer/songwriter Matt Whipkey did a solo acoustic set that kept everyone occupied and fit well with the evening’s more-rural theme. The Monroes then got the crowd of 100 or so to a fever pitch for FortyTwenty, but I split before the Lincoln band took the stage.
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