Weekly Concert Preview: The Smithereens take State Theatre
For a band formed when Blondie and Pink Floyd still ruled the airwaves, The Smithereens have managed to retain a fresh appeal that can only explain their longevity. Coming to State Theater this Saturday, Feb. 16, the band offers the perfect mix of power pop and alternative rock to get you through a Valentine’s Day slump, while maybe also making you nostalgic for the music of a bygone era.
The original members of the band—Pat Dinizio and Jim Babjak on vocals and guitar, Mike Mesaros on vocals and base, and Dennis Diken on drums—though somewhat rounded now, all hail from Carteret, N.J., where they graduated from high school. The band came together in 1980, when they began making music heavily influenced by the Beatles and garage rock. Their first hit came when “Blood and Roses” was featured in the 1986 film Dangerously Close, and the next came with “A Girl like You” in 1990.
“A Girl Like You” exemplifies everything great about The Smithereens. In spite of lyrics that toe the line between heartfelt and sappy (“I’ll say anything except goodbye”), the song is upbeat and features a strong beat from Dennis Diken. Rocking guitar solos and the overall “I don’t give a damn” mentality make this song excellent for rocking out and dancing off a bad day.
In 2006, Mike Mesaros left the band and was replaced by bass guitarist Severo Jornacion. As their 2010 album Greatest Hits … Revisited and 2011 album 2011 demonstrate, the change in lineup did nothing to hurt their distinctive style. Led by Pat Dinizio, the band draws influence heavily from late British Invasion pop and other remnants of the 1960s.
The Smithereens have a fun, catchy sound that leaves listeners dancing and ready to sing along, and these are songs that you’ve just got to belt. Admittedly, the band went through a rough patch when they released a Beatles cover album and a Christmas album, but the strong vocals and guitar riffs of their original work makes up for this entirely. This is not music that takes itself too seriously. In spite of angsty, lovelorn lyrics, The Smithereens deliver pop rock that’s perfect for dancing with that special someone or, perhaps, to forget about your lack thereof.
These are not up and comers trying too hard to impress their audiences. They know what they’re doing and how to deliver their particular brand of rock. Tickets are $21 and are for sale online and at the door. Their show promises to be fun—and The Smithereens are still obscure enough to impress all of your friends.
Photo: Dena Flows via Flickr