Keenan Hendricks, Joe Berger, and Derek Haney are Rigometrics. They're playing rock 'n' roll Friday, Sept. 23, at Portland House of Music & Events to celebrate the release of their new album.
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Maybe rock ‘n’ roll isn’t quite dead yet? While there have been painfully few mainstream hits with a rock edge in the pandemic years, the return to live music seems to have rekindled people’s love affair with analog instruments and hard-driving performances. 

Not only were theatrical Swedish rockers Ghost headlining with heavy rock veterans Mastodon this last week in Bangor, but they also found themselves in the Top 50 on Spotify, with bands like Arctic Monkeys, the Neighborhood, and maybe you could call that OneRepublic song from “Top Gun” a rock song (and Windham’s own Amy Allen is touring with them right now, which is pretty rock ’n’ roll). 

"Rig n' Roll" album art
“Rig n’ Roll” is the new album from Rigometrics.

And even if the two dudes at Amigo’s last Friday in Fat Knuckle Freddie – who laid down a heavy blues rock that hinted at metal (with a rap interlude from old friend Saiyid Brent that was lightning hot) – were a little long in the tooth, the crowd certainly was not. It’s been a while since I’ve seen so many under-30s at a live rock show. 

Among them were the three guys from Rigometics – tall and long-haired and easy to pick out, they played basketball and football at USM and UNE – who just happen to have a release show at Portland House of Music & Events this Friday, Sept. 23, for the first rock album from a Portland band collectively in their 20s in recent memory. Like most of the crowd, they seemed to have found the place by simply following the din, which was seductive as hell, bouncing down Wharf Street, slamming off the Old Port Tavern, and resonating up Exchange. 

They’ve played Amigo’s before. They might overwhelm the place now. 

The three of them basically got pandemically hosed out of their last two years of college, like lots of kids, and put the band together as much as a way to kill time as anything else. Vocalist and piano player Keenan Hendricks is a theater kid from a musical family (first cousins are Golden Oak) and it’s easy to hear on the 11-song “Rig n’ Roll” that guitarist Joe Berger was doing some serious bedroom riffing between football practices in high school. 

Put them in a house with drummer Derek Haney and you’ve got yourself a trio that played a first live show as part of a graduation party in the spring of 2021. They can play, sure, and the classic rock formula they employ, full of guitar solos and crashing piano and soaring vocals, is a tried and true recipe. But they also appear to be part of a groundswell of interest locally in getting back out in front of some live bands. 

“We do feel people are starting to trend more toward live experiences,” Hendricks said of what the kids these days are doing. “Because we’ve had two years of our lives just trying to find ways to entertain ourselves virtually.” 

It’s a fun return to the live productions of the rock era, when people wore costume-like outfits, hammed it up, and did everything turned up to 11. Don’t be surprised when Rigometrics gives the stage entirely to Berger for a 15-minute solo. 

Their approach is easy to glean when “Rig n’ Roll” opens with a self-titled track that’s straight piano blues – until Hendricks starts singing, high-voiced in a way that’s a lot easier when you’re young, in the style of Robert Plant’s early days. Quickly, it might be hard not to be nostalgic for the late-’60s London that’s been memorialized in a hundred different musician biographies, even if you weren’t nearly alive then. 

Do you dig Greta Van Fleet? These guys are right there. “The Water Is Still” has a bit of Manu Chao in its guitar harmonics, but it quickly settles into a heavy jam, “storming over you.” Sometimes they get dark and Ozzy, as in “The Way,” like kids rolling dice to Dungeons and Dragons; sometimes they get swampy Dr. John, as in “N.A.B.,” where you might know what’s coming, but you’ll be happy about it if you do. 

But go to the show. That’s what sells it.

“You can’t find this by watching a video or listening to the record,” Hendricks reasoned. “It’s any live performance. There’s a rawness, and a camaraderie when people come together. Especially now. And people seem to be enjoying themselves and you feed off that.”

Don’t take his word for it, though. See for yourself. 

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at [email protected]

"Earth Needs a Moon"
“Earth Needs a Moon” is the title track of the upcoming release from Love By Numb3rs.

2 weeks, 5 songs

• Love By Numb3rs, “Earth Needs a Moon” — The title track off the trio’s upcoming full-length (Sept. 30), this is a slow burn, a desperate love song that doesn’t mince words or waste a single note. “Never want to see your darker side,” Anna Lombard fairly begs, “like we’re falling out of phase.” Dan Connor’s vocals are a smokey foil to her red-hot glow and Jon Roods tears them apart with a searing guitar solo. 

• Late Sorrow, “Blame My ADHD” — The solo project of Jake Nagy, who you might have heard in the Midcoast area playing with Drive By Todd, this is a Billy Idol kind of thing, sneering and desperate for your love at the same time, with a guitar solo in the bridge: “I don’t care about you if you don’t care about me.”

• The Button Men, “Launch” — A full-length solo effort by Mallett Brothers dobro player (and Portland music scene raconteur) Wally Wenzel, this is a Casio-beat bit of indie pop that’s got a lot of Max Headroom to it and definitely owes a debt or two to Bowie in his “Major Tom” phase.   Like outtakes from the “Weird Science” soundtrack: “the baby boomers ruined everything.”

• Kenny Login, “Everything Must Go” — Washed out and bleak soundscapes that somehow still evoke a hopefulness, this five-song EP has a bit of old-time space movie and a bit of slow-motion disco. 

• Dead Gowns, “Renter Not a Buyer” — A single to preview the upcoming EP “How,” this is plenty of incentive to look for the rest of the work. More rocking and raw than previous efforts, this is all kinds of Courtney Barnett and over all too soon when it doesn’t make it to three minutes. Gimme more. Right now. 

— Sam Pfeifle

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