Show Review: Transfer, Apes of Wrath, the Vulgar Herd @ the Ken Club

Oh the Dialed In and the Dirtbag should be friends,
Oh the Dialed In and the Dirtbag should be friends,
One may dig the Dynamite Walls,
The other digs stuff with more balls,
But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.

Rosey and I met up last night at the Ken Club to see Transfer and Apes of Wrath celebrate the most famous pro-slavery, anti-tax revolt in history (in honor of this aristocratic rebellion, I tried to affect my best Thurston Howell for the photo). It was almost impossible for me to believe that this would be my first time seeing Transfer. Transfer arrived in San Diego about the same time as The North Atlantic, and while it took them a little longer to get going, my, my, are they going. The Ken was packed from 9:30 PM on, with Transfer’s usual mixture of well-meaning hippies, older folks digging on their Zeppelin-esque 70s vibe, and PB denizens. I recognized virtually no one, a sign I take as positive. Bands that appeal primarily to other musicians may benefit from all sorts of scene cred, but ask any professional band (by which I mean any band trying to make money making music) and they’ll tell you that what they need are fewer post-show discussions of effects pedals and more people standing in their merch line. Transfer seem to be one of the favorite bands of the non-hipster crowd, which in my book is a good thing. It usually means that the band can play and that their tunes mean more than their ability to do the hang. Good for them.

First up, presumably, was the Vulgar Herd. Two initial observations: 1. these guys roll with a TON of gear and take a little too long getting off stage and packed up, and 2. the other bands apparently didn’t know they would be there. Given these two facts, I was predisposed to not liking them purely for matters of band etiquette. That said, I was amused and entertained by their odd mixture of of Pretzel Logic-era Steely Dan and Europe, of all bands. The crowd didn’t quite seem to be picking up on what they were putting down: if not for a back wall, I’m pretty sure most onlookers would have been standing in front of the WaMu across the street. I liked them alright, though, and they seemed to be having a good time.


Next was Apes of Wrath. My brother Jason was excited to see this band because he works with the drummer, who apparently has spent every conversation the two of them have had downplaying the quality of both his drumming and his band. And while low expectations are easy to surpass, he needn’t have worried: Apes of Wrath were fun, interesting and energetic. The best I can do to describe them would be to imagine Bloc Party covering Thin Lizzy and Television songs: tandem guitar flourishes, manic, fevered drumming, and tight, bouncy bass made the band very fun for the musician in me. When their singer finds the vocal hooks to match their considerable compositional skills, I’ll be swearing up and down that its time to break out the anointing oil.



Transfer was the big draw this evening. By the time they (somewhat shakily, judging by singer Matt Molarius’s laughter) eased into the first notes of their first song, the crowd was already in good spirits. I’d estimate there were at least 150 in the music room for their set–or, put another way, considerably more than it was designed to hold:


The highlight of the set for me was the new track “You Are the Wolf,” Transfer’s contribution to the upcoming Black Box compilation, which probably does the best job of showcasing the band’s unique knack for shoehorning pop songs into expansive soundscapes that reference but don’t ape classic rock; the kind of tune that has earned comparisions to bands like My Morning Jacket. Other songs, however, played it closer to the leather vest, so to speak: at their worst, Transfer sound like a competent, Zeppelin-inspired classic rock band. While that’s no faint praise, the more they can do to escape the comfortable but well-worn territory of 70s rock, the better.

PS: Where were the suits? Oh, right–it’s always 120 degrees in the Ken Club music room.




  1. Awww, look at us. It was so fun hanging out with you. Thanks for backing me up on door duties, too. Hope to see you sooner rather than later…

  2. The Apes singer rocks, dude – the soundman didn’t have the vocals up loud enough. I saw them at the North Park street fair on University Ave a month ago and the singer sounds a lot like David Bowie.

    The Ken show on the 3rd kicked ass. And that first band – that was the soundguy’s band!

    So get ready to break out that oil, dude!

  3. Nice blog..great coverage..

    Check this show out…

    Friday July 13th


    @ The TOWER BAR


    21st st. crew

  4. nice review and pics two things about that show u should know one the band that was to play canceled and bret the owner of the ken club did not inform the other bands we were playing.two we are working on getting on and of stage faster .it is our 4th thanx agian for review well noted and hope to see u soon at an other show

  5. Don’t worry about it too much–I report things as I see them, and yes, I’d been advised that you guys were pinch hitting. The getting on and off stage thing can be tough, especially when you roll with a free-standing mixer/sound module, but it helps move things along and shows respect for the other bands on the bill. It’s meant as a general point, not a specific criticism. Good luck and keep me posted as to your shows, etc.

  6. What makes The Apes of Wrath band so F-ing fantastic IS that the vocals DO match the incredibly tight ingenious music. They are completely synchronized as one complex element.

    I’m honestly surprised they haven’t been picked up nationally. They are one group of seriously sexy talented M.F.’s!!! Total professionals.

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