By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — As one of the greatest garage-punk bands to emerge in the U.S. in the 1960s, Tacoma quintet the Sonics helped establish a long tradition of unhinged Northwestern rock along with contemporaries like the Wailers (not to be confused with Bob Marley’s backing band during the ’70s) and Portland, OR-based act the Kingsmen, who scored a massive hit with their anarchic three-chord hit “Louie Louie.”
The Sonics upped the garage-rock ante with the raucous blast of their first single “The Witch” in 1964, with singer/keyboardist Jerry Roslie’s feral howl being matched by guitarists Larry Parypa’s insistent, menacing guitar riff. The aggressive abandon and darker subject matter addressed on such ferocious ragers as “Strychnine” and “Psycho” set the Sonics apart from all but the most savage ’60s garage-rock acts.
Though the original lineup would fall apart by 1968, the influence of the seminal albums Here Are the Sonics and Boom echoes on in the band’s modern punk and garage disciples like the Fastbacks and pre-grunge outfit Green River (a precursor to Sub Pop hitmakers Mudhoney).
Playing regularly since 2007, the line-up featuring Roslie, founding guitarist Parypa, honking OG sax man Rob Lind with bassist/vocalist Freddie Dennis (who played in the Kingsmen for a decade starting in the early ’70s) and drummer Dusty Watson wowed audiences across the globe. With the Bay Area establishing itself as a hotbed of modern garage rock in the past decade with annual genre celebrations like Total Trash Fest and Burger Boogaloo, the Sonics have made regular visits to Bay Area, including a blistering show at the Fillmore in 2015 armed with songs from This Is the Sonics, the crew’s first proper studio album in nearly half a century.
Earlier this year saw the release of Boom!, an acclaimed new documentary that traces the band from it’s pioneering early days through to the current revival. While Roslie and Parypa are no longer touring with the band (Jake Cavaliere of the Lords of Altamont on keyboards and Evan Foster of the Boss Martians on guitar have taken their place on the road), Lind, current bassist Don Wilhelm and company will grind out touchstone tracks like “Keep A-Knockin'” and “Have Love, Will Travel” for their adoring fans at the Independent in San Francisco on Sunday night. The band is joined by local garage favorites the Flakes.
Sunday, November 18, 8 p.m. $30