It was the end of the world, or at least we all pretended it was for the annual American Red Cross Run For Your Lives 5k zombie infested obstacle course in Darlington, MD on October 27, 2012. One band after another took the stage during the day-long Apocalypse Party, where runners, spectators, and of course, off-duty zombies came to hang out and relax after their grueling duels in the woods. What started out to be a bright and sunny day eventually turned to gray, and just as Hurricane Sandy began to roll in, an incredible sound from New Jersey took the stage by storm.
I’d been at this thing all day. I was tired, hungry, thirsty, and a little bit cranky. As I sat on the ground scowling at my unvinegared french fries, I heard the familiar style of a two-step beat and a raunchy guitar. I stood up quickly, grabbed my camera, and once again pushed my way through the zombie horde to the stage. Within minutes, I was bobbing up and down to the beat of “The Kids Are Coming” by The Downrights. It was then that I had a “moment”. My artist heart said, “Hey, these guys are REALLY good!” and my uneaten, music nazi brain agreed.
The Downrights brought some serious punkabilly chizz. They had all the look, the feel, the class, and sound of a multi-platinum put-together, the message and drive of a classic punk band, but all the fun and personability of a party with the boys next door. The band sounds like a 90’s punk throwback to the late 50’s with a dollop of Bill Haley frosting on top, and if sound alone isn’t enough, there is no lack of real talent in this group. Not only were the rip shredding guitar solos spot on and well woven into the fabric of the music, they were the kind of licks and leads that rock and roll was built on. To prove it, when they played Chuck Berry’s famous “Johnny B. Goode” the crowd roared, and if you didn’t know better you’d have sworn it was Chuck himself up on stage laying down the law. They had drawn a fairly decent crowd to the stage, considering the venue, and it’s worth mentioning because they were the ONLY band out of 9 that day to draw any sort of a crowd at all. The band was fun to interact with between songs and took as much of an interest in their dancing spectators as the fans did of them. It was one of those shows where the set was just too short. I, myself, would have listened to them play everything twice, and I pretty much did in the car on the way home after scoring their album from the merch table after the show.
After a long day, it was great to hear some music we could all get into. I loved The Downrights, the audience loved them, and dare I say it, my mother even dug these guys. Clearly, zombies don’t eat brains of people who know good music when they hear it. To survive any future apocalyptic events, check these guys out at www.TheDownrights.com and follow them on Twitter twitter.com/thedownrights.
All photos copyright (c) 2012 J.A.M. Vaughan