Surf Rock has ridden the ebbs and flows of popularity over the decades, and the tradition is kept alive by enthusiasts of the genre, such as the members of RoarShark. This band hails from Rochester, a location which inspired the album title “…It Came From Lake Ontario.” The band celebrated the album’s release with fans at the Backroom Lounge at Record Archive on November 13.
Surf Rock primarily consists of instrumental music played on electric guitars with rapid alternate picking and lots of reverb, not to be confused with pop music featuring lyrics about surfing. You won’t hear any Beach Boys tunes at a RoarShark show, but you will hear music familiar from its use in television and movies, like “Misrilou” by Dick Dale and the Del Tones and “Apache” by The Shadows.
The quartet played covers of those songs, as well as original songs which are featured on the album. Inspired by the the greats, the songs written by RoarShark blend seamlessly with the classics. “Azo Go Baja” could feasibly be dubbed into a 60’s beach movie. “Cattle-esque” was nestled between covers of similarly bovine-themed cowboy songs. “Faulty Equipmonk” has more of a sci-fi feel, with the use of a theramin (played by guest performer H. Elizabeth Alcott of Infrared Radiation Orchestra).
Attendees were swept away by the infectious grooves. This all-ages show drew in people who grew up during the birth of Surf Rock, toddlers who galloped around the venue, and everyone in-between. Girls in floral dresses danced in a group. Guys in Hawaiian shirts hung out by the bar. There were even a smattering of teenage punk rockers – which isn’t surprising, because the punk and metal genres were heavily influenced by surf rock.
Together since 2010, RoarShark is Brian Gemme and Josh Reiner on guitars, Neil Bourque on bass, and Gary Yanni on drums. “…It Came From Lake Ontario” can be found at Record Archive or ordered through CDBaby.
Set List: Crabs in the Harem, Out of Limits, Faulty Equipmonk, Sadie Hawkins Atom Bomb, Apache, Cattle-esque, Azo Go Baja, Surfin’ Cow, La Femme Electrique, Spy Surfer, Dirk Diggler’s on the Prowl, High Pressure Cutoff, Taco Wagon, Secret Agent Man, White Rabbit, Misrilou, Percolator, Playa de los Muertos, Kids in the Hall