Date: June 23, 2006
Venue: Thunder In The Valley, Johnstown, PA
For the longest time the term “local band” didn’t mean much around this neck of the woods. Basically it would mean that the band was from somewhere around Pittsburgh OR if talking about the thirty mile radius from where I sit typing this it would mean either a polka band, a jam band or country music. None of these are enjoyable enough to merit attending a concert…not by a long shot. Well a couple of years ago I managed to stumble upon a band by chance and I realized that there is a little bit of culture around here. This band…The Marauders as they prefer to be called, play 50’s era rockabilly with just a touch of punk influence. Not only do they play music that is unfamiliar to 90% of the population in the tri-county area and they are good at it. Damn good at it.
The Marauders seem to play every festival and gathering in Western PA. I’ve seen them play three hour sets in bars, on the back of a flatbed truck at a car cruise, big clubs with popular underground acts like the Toasters and now…a motorcycle rally. I’ve wanted to introduce the Marauders to a couple of my friends and they were both off and jumped on the chance to check them out live. Mother Nature wasn’t very cooperative (it rained steadily most of the night) but for a free three hour set, it was worth it.
The show started off with the Marauders playing some original tunes (something most bands around here don’t have) with the occasional cover tune sprinkled in. Most of the covers were semi-popular greaser tunes from the 50’s. A crowd gathered and there were probably about 30 or 40 people at the beginning of the show but the rain cut that in half fairly quickly. Due to the fact that the bassist was playing a stand up bass, the occasional curious straggler would wander over to see what was up. After about an hour of standing in the tsunami that had developed overhead, the band took a break and invited the remaining onlookers up on stage for the second half of their set. There were only a handful of people left and we all gathered around up on the stage. The second half of their set was really good due to the personal setting and the band also seemed to play more to the semi-punk crowd with some faster songs and a handful of Misfits covers. The last half of the Marauders’ set was the best that I’ve seen them play. They weren’t playing to many people, but they seemed very appreciative that those who had remained had stuck it out with them. My favorite moment of the show was when they did the Misfits tunes. Earlier in the show they covered American Nightmare, which I’ve seen them play before and later they did a cover of Astrozombies (I blew my load because this is my favorite Misfits song and I never heard them play it before), followed by Where Eagles Dare (which they messed up but was still good), and to top it all off they decided to throw in an early Johnny Cash tune right before their best song, Kill Pop Radio. They closed the show with, believe it or not, a tune that was penned by the Stray Cat legend Brian Setzer himself for the Marauders titled We Are The Marauders.
Soaking wet from head to toe, ears ringing and splinters in my ass could not deter a really good show. As with each and every time I catch the Marauders, I come away even more impressed. They are one of those bands who get better with every show and who never disappoint. The Marauders put on one hell of a show given the weather situation and gained a few more fans, my friends in particular. I can’t wait to check them out again.