If a Temperance League show doesnít end with the singer swinging from a rafter, table-walking through the bar, or drenched in sweat and geysers of cheap beer, you could well be at some other bandís show. Led by 39-year-old Charlotte native Bruce Hazel, Temperance League has been overturning the old-guys-canít-rock notion since solidifying as a quintet two years ago. Theyíre doing so at a pace that should shame many younger acts, kicking out blitzkrieg jams on a relentless basis.
The bandís initial singlesóreleased through their own Like, Wow labelóare culled from 2010 sessions done with Mitch Easter at his Fidelitorium. The songs channel the bandís forebears, including fiery elements of the MC5, Ramones, Springsteen and even the Byrds, all in a vintage-sounding blend of swagger and catharsis. But what sounds raw and feral belies the craftsmanship thatís gone into these tracks. The two-guitar attack of Shawn Lynch and Chad Wilson tears through muscular rhythms delivered by drummer David Kim. Hazel, meanwhile, shouts out common-man aphorisms and left-leaning agit-prop like the possessed offspring of Strummer and The Boss. Decades spent slugging it out in the service industry provides him with plenty of narrative vigor and vitriol.
As energized as the singles sound, itís live that the Temperance League really plugs into its strengths. The live chops are formidable, having been honed in some of the Queen Cityís best bands of recent years, including Lou Ford, Benji Hughes, Les Dirt Clods, the Fence Lions and Buschovski, among others. Itís a veteran lineup, in other words, playing music we traditionally associate with younger generations. But while youthful rockers find punk energy and inspiration in the hunger to make their mark, this band is powered by something maybe even more urgentóthe ticking clock. óJohn Schacht