Michael Dean Damron & Thee Loyal Bastards
July 3, 2009
The Heavy Metal Shop
Photo: Conor Dow
Having never visited the Heavy Metal Shop in downtown Salt Lake before, I was not aware that they had in-store shows from time to time. Of course I am familiar with the shop—its logo has been a ubiquitous staple in my life having been placed on t-shirts, sported on babies in the form of onesies, and stickers I have seen across town since the age of 17—I am just not very metal. As a matter of fact, if there were such a place of business to frequent in my land, my shop would be The Light Alternative Country Shop where I would hang out all day being a wussy.
The Heavy Metal Shop was having a preshow of sorts on July 3, where Michael Dean Damron was to be playing a stripped down set prior to performing at Burt’s Tiki Lounge later on in the night. I’m slightly familiar with Michael Damron as being the former front man for I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House, and had heard them play a few times when I worked at the now defunct Egos, which turned into the now defunct Bar Deluxe. He has since shut that band down and now performs as Michael Dean Damron & Thee Loyal Bastards, name just as long as previously, and they can be found at: http://www.myspace.com/michaeldeandamron.
When I got to The Heavy Metal Shop, I was at first taken aback by the adult to child ratio—It was actually quite evenly matched. But hell, if my parents had taken me to a show like this as a youngster, I would have been all over it. We crowded into the shop to watch Michael Damron and his tall and bald bass player, Allen Hunter, give us the business. You would think that it being the beginning of July, and the amount of people crammed into the shop that I would be sweating like a hot piglet, but my air conditioning had been out for about a week and this felt like a cool winter breeze to me in comparison.
What first caught my attention, much to my delight, was how damn funny Damron and Hunter were,. They playfully bantered, teasing each other onstage and then would crack a couple more jokes before proceeding to go into song. They music was panoply of genres, ranging from Southern Rock to a touch a blues and laced with a stroke of raspy heaviness. Damron would stop between songs to pull back his wet hair and take a swig off his beer, regaling the crowd with tales as to the meaning of the next song he was about to play. The best part about the music is that the lyrics were honest and raw without a touch of pretention in them whatsoever: some of them bordering on tender and sweet, others whimsical but gloomy, making me think of him as a crass version of Woody Guthrie. He did a few covers such as “I’m Eighteen” by Alice Cooper and “Dancing In The Moonlight” by Thin Lizzy. They played for about an hour, and afterward declared that it was time to eat American flag cake, thanking everyone sincerely for coming to listen and buying their merchandise. The show turned out to be far more entertaining than my initial expectations were. I like when bands come in stripped down and intent to make things fun and not a touch of overinflated ego in sight. I will abandon all hope of the Light Alternative Country shop and go back to the Heavy Metal Shop for an in-store show any day.