Local H: Trouble and We're Loving It
J. Gordon
5/17/2004 2:28:45 PM

In whatever incarnation you’ve seen the band Local H, from two guys on a stadium stage to a full band in a tiny, dark club, one thing remains consistent: lead singer/songwriter Scott Lucas.

With his aggressive rhythms, heart-breakingly sad lyrics, and playful snotty banter from the stage, a Local H show always promises to give you your money’s worth. Now, with short hair that makes him look like an angry young boy with deep set eyes, Lucas is a charming delinquent, a rabble rouser, and the kid on the block your mother told you not to play with. You know this guy is trouble and hell, if there isn’t something about him that’s magnetic too.

The Rocket Bar in St. Louis was packed with fans, old and new. “Hello Skips, Scabs, Skalliwags and Hooligans,” he greeted, drinking straight from a large bottle of Maker’s Mark whiskey. He tried this greeting again and again over the course of the night, getting progressively more tongue-tied.

Playing a good mix of old and new Local H tunes, “High Fivin’ Mother Fucker” was the first to get the mosh pit started. [Here one must comment that a mosh pit in front of the Rocket Bar rest rooms is very poor planning on part of the management]. The elevated platform in the front of the stage shook so fiercely it looked like the speakers would topple. Anyone small or delicate in stature got the heck out of the way.

Scott let the audience do much of the vocal work in that song, encouraging the chant of “You crass bad ass,” until he adeptly took over in full scream. The insanity continued through “Heavy Metal Bakesale.” “Buffalo Trace,” on the new album, Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles? [Studio E] showed off the texture and beautiful melodies just beneath the surface of aggression. Lucas plays with a bass player and drummer now, versus the two-man shop for which the band first became known.

Midway through the set, someone handed him a cigarette. He took a few puffs before coughing and giving it back. “I don’t even smoke, man,” he said. “Who’s got some cough syrup? Take it from me. I don’t look cool and I don’t feel cool.”

Well, he’s got that a little bit wrong. Cigarettes don’t make him cooler, but Scott Lucas looks very cool, if for no other reason than for his lack of trying. Lucas is, if nothing else, authentic. He doesn’t dress up for shows. He doesn’t posture and pose. He talks, teases, and sells his own merchandise when the gig is over. How cool is that?

Local H’s lyrics, for all their terrible weight and ferocity, are also smart. Scott Lucas is singing about the war in Iraq and the national debt as much as he’s (rightfully) singing of his disdain of “California Songs.” When the moshpit died down, Lucas said dryly, “I think the enthusiasm is dead now. It’s pretty much over. I’m not feeling it.” The audience protested and he continued in jest, “Hey, I’m just being adult about the situation…”

Someone in back shouted, “Free Bird!” Laughs all around. And then whaddoya know? Lucas broke into the Skynrd Classic, forgetting the words, repeating some lines, and then exploding into a stream of insults and obscenities as the music kept going. The moshpit went wild during his punked-up rendition of the guitar solo and damn if it didn’t turn out to be pretty cool. (Gasp! Was that call out for the song a plant?)

Also played were the band’s biggest hits, “Good as Dead,” and “Bound for the Floor”—the latter turning into a chant with echo and strobe lights, repeating, “they got the money, we got the soul.”

A chant like this wouldn’t mean much, coming from your average rock band. But Lucas is calling it out like a mad man, all the while thumping the mic on his sweaty t-shirted chest like a heartbeat, taking over the drumkit, and searching the audience with a wild-eyed intensity. He’s seeking kindred spirits, maybe, or, more likely, just a mother f-ing good time. In any case, he gave it to St. Louis last Friday night.


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