The After Hours

The After Hours
Viper Room
By Lucky (SugarBuzz Hollywood Hooligan)
Photography by Alex Kinnan

My first exposure to The After Hours happened by chance one night in 2013 while I was cavorting at The Redwood Bar and Grill in downtown Los Angeles. I wasn’t there to review or even suss out bands, if fact I was destined for trouble, chatting up at the bar. At some point I glanced over to the stage and realized I knew some of the key players in the rock and roll band. Half-ass paying attention, I just wasn’t getting what they were laying down. Now don’t get me wrong, I have championed these guy’s previous projects, first rate players they be, but distractions were too deep for me to appreciate the show.

With the release of “Shaken, not Stirred”, the debut EP from The After Hours, my apathy was replaced with sheer excitement in regards to the band and their future prospects. Catchy from the start “Shaken, not Stirred” is now in heavy rotation at The Shug home office and prompted me to hit the streets to see them live at The Viper Room in Hollywood, California.

Pre-show included some time well spent, hanging out front, people watching, and catching up with cohorts in crime. Face to face beats social media. Suddenly I had to expedite entry as hoopla signaled show time.

The After Hours started it up with ultra-cool “Sugar Baby”. Any song that includes the words “sugar” and “buzz” in verse is all right in my book. The After Hours oozed the style, what with those black turtlenecks and black tight trousers. Non-conformity meets compatibility. The music has a unique voice, incorporating vintage and avant-garde in a today’s direction.

In what seemed to be a mix of blues, outlaw and the checkered flag, “Going to the Go-Go,” roared by like a supped up dragster doing a quarter mile. Vocalist Ryan Wilkins had a unique delivery while he shook tambourine and bassist Masa Nishimura laid down a shuffle riff based assault. Drop and roll guitar peeled out for major adrenalin rush.

Ryan dedicated such and we grooved to “The Lonely Boys”. The bands drive and enthusiasm generated a pulse-pounding pump that riled the crowd till mad fun happened. The guitar sound of Bruce Matis cut to the quick perhaps due not only to ability and style, but also to his Airline’s two Alnico hot-10 humbuckers. Masa Nishimura and hired gun Justin Citron provided some big bad wolf handclaps that accentuated. Nice!

The After Hours channeled a British invasion of sorts with “Keep her Satisfied” all the while speckling it with a hodgepodge of non-related influence. The After Hours took liberties with a wide range of genres as a means of making a sound of their own.  And guess what, it worked. That perhaps is what makes The After Hours standout from bands that say just try to cop a certain era or vibe.

Not missing a beat, the boys hit it up with “A Girl Like You”. Keeping it taut and in the groove, Pauly let it pop while Masa played steadfast. “Time Won’t Wait” followed in dirty freakbeat fashion, with hints of early British psychedelia. “Talkin bout Love” had some black boot toe tapping that added an aura all it’s own. After Hours fans wait patiently for new recordings to emerge that hopefully will feature these three great songs and more.

Rounding it out, The After Hours bumped with “Here to Stay”, in which Bruce laid down some reverberant twangy guitar that captured a Johnny Rivers/Duane Eddy essence. Ryan’s from the hip vocal came complete with panache and swagger. On the outset, the crowd let loose maniacal and the band had to know the show was a smash.

Pre-set we included a gathering on the walk and the band did some semi meet and greet, even if unintended. All in all it was a really great night and if future shows for The After Hours are this much fun, you can count me in. You have been warned.