Review: The Pullout at The Common Grounds

When The Pull Out assumed the stage at the Common Grounds in Gainesville on Thursday night, anything seemed possible.

Singer/guitarist Seth Lyda wore a white Bob Marley shirt, and fellow singer/guitarist Joe Josephson wore a black Led Zeppelin shirt. Drummer Evan Cantwell  wore a shirt boasting cut-off sleeves and a pattern of iconic W’s, indicative of the Wu-Tang Clan (see shirt, pre-sleeve trimming, in the photo above). And bassist Nate Lyda went the plain white tee route, you know, representing a blank canvas for the rest of the band’s band shirts to battle, smash and mingle on.

Having never heard the Gainesville/St. Augustine-based band’s music before, and seeing these three distinctly different flavors of music emblazoned across three different band member’s chests, all proudly given the honor of “that’s the shirt I’m wearing on stage tonight,” well, it horrified me initially.

Inevitably, I thought, I am damned to write in my review that “The Pull Out sounds like what would happen if The Wu-Tang Clan re-animated Russell Jones, traveled back in time, got drunk with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at Bron-Y-Aur in 1970, chartered a yacht, argued about who would win in a fight  (Gandalf or The Qing Lord), floated down to Jamaica, got high with Bob and then recorded with The Wailers, in Trenchtown.”

This was not to be the case.

The Pull Out played what I came to think of as “Roadhouse Sublime,” incorporating quick-paced ska style rhythms, dozens of dramatic drum fills and similarly skanky, beach-chirpy guitars (you know how that ska guitar be boasting that chirpy/hoppy  character). The band definitely has something there, but the half-growly, quarter-harmonic, eighth grandiose and eighth sloppy vocals need some work. Moreover, it almost  seemed like the vocals were just filler between guitar solos,  and for real, Lyda and Stephenson got some dexterous digits – most of the band’s songs had at least one solo for each. It wasn’t verse-chorus, it was verse-solo, and The Pull Out were Rock Band worthy on that front, aye.

They changed it up a bit toward the end of the set, playing a classic, blues-style jam and then a more dub-influenced, slow-nodding-necker of a song. To my ears, the work-in-progress vocals matched better with the bluesy joint.

Still, The Pull Out are a young band, and they will get better as the days and weeks progress. They return to the Common Grounds on October 3rd, and I am already wondering what band shirts they might break out of the closet for the return engagement. Stay tuned…

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– Matt Lehtola


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