show review

American Sharks Live @ Headliner's 9/11/2014

Lisa Sanchez
American Sharks are constantly busy on the road. Whether that be manning their merch table, meeting fans, playing killer shows, or foraging for local fast food, these guys always bring the party, and they have to considering they've been playing every night for almost a year straight. I was able to meet up with the band at Headliner's in Toledo September 11 on their recent tour with Clutch to get a little inside info on how hard the party rocks.
The three-piece stoner rock band has made tremendous leaps and bounds in a short amount of time, but their success is from a combination of hard work, good friends, and, of course, virgin sacrifices. "We've done two so far," said lead singer and bassist Mike Hardin. "We had to do a second one because we weren't sure the first one was actually a virgin. Now, we may be looking to do a third, as well."
The band has existed in its current state for the last four years, just recently releasing their first full length album, American Sharks in 2013. Hardin and guitarist Will Ellis have known each other since junior high. They later met drummer Nick Cornetti in Austin, and thus American Sharks was born in a blast of guitar fuzz and Texas heat.
"When Nick joined, that's when I think our sound really solidified. It's when the band really started and we shifted gears," says Ellis. American Sharks started out playing parties and local shows, then made their way onto the road with fellow Texas natives The Sword. "We're very fortunate to have friends who play in The Sword. They helped us inch in," stated Hardin. Since then, the band has been on the road for a year straight. They've played the massive SXSW Fest in Austin, TX, and dragged their touring van across the country with Whores, Red Fang, and now the legendary Clutch.
The trio flawlessly combines the heavy-hitting styles of rock and roll with the catchiness of punk and crust. But, in spite of their music's heavy tone, the band's personal influences make for an interesting medley. "I listen to a lot of pop music," admitted the Sharks guitarist. "We incorporate that style in our own way, mostly in the song structure." Whereas, the drummer, Nick, cites Black Sabbath as a musical reference, Hardin counters by saying he exclusively listens to 70's era David Bowie. "I don't know why we play heavy stuff," Hardin jests. Hardin writes all of the bands lyrics and attributes his inspirations to the results of demon rituals, dreams, and drug-induced states. Something that relates to every music fan on a visceral level.
On top of their unique sounds, American Sharks put on solid, commanding performances. When asked about their precise show style, all of the guys have the same response: "We're just so tight because we play together every night" That's what Cornetti says. Ellis agrees with, "Yeah, it's not like we can get any worse at this point." The band's shows are like a controlled chaos acid spin with Cornetti wailing on his snare drums, Ellis's eyes rolled back in his head as he goes into some guitar-induced coma state, and Hardin compelling the audience to donate weed to the band. The singer commented, "We just...blech! on stage and put it all together somehow."
Despite comparing the band's performance to a concentrated rock vomit, the guys deliver a hammering performance. When American Sharks played "Overdrive" and "Devil's Overture Pt. 1" in Toledo, it felt like the band loaded up a semi full of liquor and hallucinogens then pushed it off a misty mountain. Hardin's stage banter is classic. He shares anecdotes about his mom's boyfriends (of which she seems to have many) and pleads for the audience to be patient, considering they're auditory assault is simply them tuning their instruments.
The American Sharks dudes are too laid back to insult or implore the crowd to "Circle pit!" but their tunes are made for senseless spinning. My personal favorite songs, "Freak Out" and "Iron Lungs" sound exactly how you probably think. Fucking awesome. Want party anthems? American Sharks. Want to trip out to some solid Rock and Roll? American Sharks. Playing Dungeons and Dragons and eating Doritos? American Sharks.
All of the trio's songs are powered by octane and THC, but they get even better live. You can feel every beat of the drums and each, single bass strum. Plus, you get the privilege of seeing an energetic and organic band that gives a tremendous performance with minimalist set up. No flaming pentagrams needed to liven up this show. I'm more entertained when Cornetti sways in front of his drums like he's about to get into a drunken brawl with them. I'd pay way more money to see that than almost any other big ticket band out there today.
Of course, when you work so hard on stage, you always have to have downtime, and American Sharks prefer the oldest one in the book (except for maybe ether). Weed makes a prominent appearance in the band's live shows, album artworks, and even their merchandise. That's right, get your credit cards ready because you can purchase an engraved American Sharks herb grinder. "Someone once bought a grinder with weed in it," offered Ellis nostalgically. "I sometimes just test them out and must have left it in there accidentally." This band may know how to market to its fans, but sometimes being easygoing doesn't always pay off on the road, "We got pulled over in Rhode Island and the cop smelled our weed," said Ellis. After the guys handed over their IDs and sweated the inevitable in their van, they were more than a little surprised to find out, "You won't go to jail for a little bit of weed in Rhode Island."
Throughout their many adventures, the American Sharks dudes may secretly be undercover D.A.R.E. officers. You go to offer the band guys some favors and suddenly, you're under arrest. I can't be sure, but the band assured, "If you think you should bring weed, bring weed." After their current tour, American Sharks are playing with GWAR starting October 15th through December 12th. The tour is making stops at the Cleveland House of Blues (November 26) and Columbus's Newport Music Hall (December 7). Stop by, party hard, and most definitely bring weed.