Barley & Hops Olde World Family Tavern, one of the premiere beer bars in Temecula, was the sight of the latest rockin’ set by local favorites the 4019’s. Deftly blending late-50s rock, a ton of 60s-era rock/pop, Southern rock guitar from the 70s, an 80s punk ‘tude, and the commercial side of grunge from the 90s, the 4019’s lays claim to certainly the most versatile – but also perhaps the best – band in the Temecula area.
The newest addition to Barley & Hops – the Draft Room, with over 20 beers on tap, a pool table, foosball, and 3 more flat screen TVs – serves as the bar’s “club” these days. It’s separated from the main bar, so one can have the best of both worlds – a mellow, sports TV-driven room for beer sipping and conversation (they have over 250 beers to choose from – 41 of them on tap), or a loud & raucous room where rock & roll rules. I, of course, chose door #2.
I must admit, after initially taking in a couple of their covers (CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” and “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” by the Georgia Satellites), I was only slightly impressed. Both songs were well performed and the singer had a great tone, but come on – just about every rock band in the area has those two songs in their set list. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to kick back, enjoy a beer, and listen to an artist that primarily performs covers, I want a little originality. I love to be surprised at a band’s song selection. It makes me smile when a band digs up a deep album cut that never gets played on the radio, a choice track that communicates to your audience, “this is the ride we’re going on tonight. Fasten your seatbelt.” Hey, perhaps I’m a bit too demanding – I’ll certainly accept that. Maybe I’m on island with this opinion as well. I can accept that too. But…
…I compare it to playing songs via jukebox in a bar. How many times have you heard AC/DC’s “Back In Black” or “You Shook Me All Night Long” hand-selected by a customer? Or maybe the Stones’ “Satisfaction” or “Start Me Up?” I bet you’ve listened to G’n’R’s “Sweet Child o’ Mine” more than just a few times in a dive bar – or even Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” I think you catch my drift. Hey, I love each of these songs – we all do. That’s not the point. Point is – why play something in public that you know each and every person in that joint has heard thousands of times and that you yourself own at home on CD or your iPod? Instead, if you were still insistent on playing the artists above in your favorite watering hole, why wouldn’t you hit the jukebox buttons for, say, “Night Prowler” (one of AC/DC’s best lyric), or “Sway” (an underappreciated Stones gem off “Sticky Fingers”), or Guns ‘N Roses “Rocket Queen,” which includes one of the great bridges in rock. There are dozens of other like choices song-wise. Make the barfly at the end of the bar sit up and take notice. Receive a “nice choice” compliment from the bartender/owner who’s there 6 days a week and hears the same songs over and over. Prove to me you know more than just the big hit songs. Remind me that you want more out of life. Show me that you care.
Which is exactly what the 4019’s started to do.
From Dramarama’s “Anything Anything” to David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” (a hit, yes, but far from David’s most popular track) to a kick-ass original called “Vegas” to “Secret Agent Man” (the first set closer), the 4019’s proved to me that they had originality, musical chops to smoothly handle their song choices, and the confidence (bravado?) to extend their audience’s expectations. An impressive string of songs that made me take notice. I mean, a Johnny Rivers song? Awesome!
I also love that the 4019’s keep their core sound while performing this wide range of covers. Instead of changing styles to fit the songs, they made the songs fit them. Keith Moon, the Who’s amazing drummer, had a term when they did a cover – he’d say they “Who’d it.” “Shakin’ All Over” and “Summertime Blues” are both great examples of the Who putting their stamp on such well-known songs – the covers came out as The Who, not a copy. And to almost the same degree, I heard the 4019’s doing the same thing – they “Forty-Nineteen’d” their covers. They owned them.
The 4019’s have a classic “garage rock” sound – a thick, tasty stew of almost equal parts Beatles, the Smithereens, Big Star, Buffalo Tom, Badfinger, the Gin Blossoms, and the Replacements. Big, melodic, hook-driven pop-rock. I even hear a bit of 90s indie rock a la Superchunk. Maybe a little alt.-country twang as well (the “rock” side of the Jayhawks and Uncle Tupelo). All of this makes them a unique find here in Temecula – a band that doesn’t rely on the blues or Johnny Cash covers to make their living. Instead, they can throw Tom Petty your way or Elvis or the Clash or even Greg Kihn. When I had to finally take off, they were in the middle of “Dead Flowers,” a 1970 Stones track that rarely (if ever) get radio play. A sterling choice, my friends. It left a smile on my face and proved that the 4019’s do indeed care. And so should you.