Before the final song of the night, vocalist and guitarist Jeffrey Thunders asked if anyone in the crowd at Three Sheets on Saturday was from New Haven. Few people answered.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Thunders laughed. “Well, this song is about living in New Haven.”
Thunders was celebrating his birthday. His New Haven-based band, The Ratz, was celebrating the release of its first full length album, Broken Bottles, Broken Bones. They brought with them two other bands that knew how to party.
The Blasphemy Boys, also from New Haven, has been around about only six months now, but already has garnered a loyal following, and the packed crowd sang along with them and traded comments and laughter. Dirty Jesse, also known as El Dirté, on vocals and bass and Tommy Doomsday on banjo, guitar, and vocals joked with each other and the audience, along with CJ on guitar and vocals, Eric on guitar and vocals, Jeremy Zombii on mandolin and bass, and Chey on vocals. The Blasphemy Boys crowded the small stage, as some members performed in front of it, or sat on the edge of it. Their set of tunes was raucous, ribald, musically memorable, and in a way, intimate, as if everyone was sitting around a fire pit in an old friend’s backyard having a drunken singalong during an early summer sunset rather than in a bar on a late winter’s night. As Doomsday mentioned before the set began, “we try not to take ourselves too seriously while taking ourselves very seriously.” But the band was clearly there to have fun, and the audience was clearly there to have it with them.
Next up was Easy Killer from Clinton, a band Thunders mentioned was currently among his favorite acts. The band launched into a set of punk punctuated by fast, satisfying guitar work between Brian and lead guitarist and vocalist Tom and backed by urgent and persistent bass and drums by Robot and Pat. The songs ranged from a ska-tinged sound to an all-out full punk thrash that the crowd responded to hungrily, even moshing during the final number, which Easy Killer dedicated to Thunders for his birthday.
By the time The Ratz made it to the stage, it seemed the audience might be thinning out as the crowd dispersed to the bar and back room. But that did not last too long, as the three-piece band created enough music to fill the room with their signature sound and caused many people to return to witness it. Jeffrey Thunders on guitar and Matt Mullarky on bass traded vocals on the ten songs from their latest release, anchored by Frederic Kaeser sitting in for regular drummer Elvis. The Ratz barely let up for a moment on their tight, fun, and fast punk rock songs. Thunders and Mullarky, longtime friends and band members in The Lost Riots, displayed an easy musical camaraderie and kinship that translated through their songs. Kaeser added his own intensity to the tunes, showing a commitment to and a love for the performance as well as the music itself. The Ratz set was only 15 minutes long, but it was delivered with such high impact to get the audience moshing, leaving the floor soaked with beer and those who were watching amused and cheering for more. After the final number turned into a short punk jam session of sorts, Mullarky once again mentioned it was Thunders’s birthday and led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday.” Thunders smiled and looked humbled.
Before he left the stage, Thunders lifted his beer high. “We talk shit about you sometimes, but we love you, New Haven. Cheers,” he said.