Jonny and the Cowabungas

The Republic, St. John's NL, April 22

Photo: Noah Bender

BY Stephen CarlickPublished Apr 23, 2015

"So does everybody feel as good as we look tonight?" asked Jonny and the Cowabungas' frontman late into their blistering Lawnya Vawyna set.

The surf-rock quintet took the stage adorned in a mix of drag, flowers and zombie makeup, with Cowabunga himself balancing a huge, flowery "wig" at his head. Their opening number showed more than a hint of spaghetti western influence, all extended intro and built tension until that classic punk callout — "One, two, three, four!" — brought a tempo change. The band flew through a psych punk riff, slowed to a groove and then sped up again, keeping the audience on their toes and never settling on one sound.

In front of the stage, the crowd began to churn, as the seemingly slacker-influenced band matched the staccato drum hits with professional flair. While the band seem like they're making up their instrumental jams on the fly, there's too much shifting for the band to be anything but a well-practiced unit, and they expertly swapped tempos and sounds to provide a dynamic surf-rock set.

So yeah, their banter consists of nonsense like, "This next song's about some shit!" but don't get it twisted: Jonny and the Cowabungas work hard to sound this laid-back. And they sound damn good.


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