With their anthem-worthy riffs, hard-hitting vocals, and absorbing stage presence, Plague Vendor are in the business of putting on raucous shows. Their descent upon San Diego’s Music Box was no exception.
The clean aesthetic of the four-piece SoCal punk rockers at first seemed at odds with their reputation for raucousness. “PLAGUE VENDOR” was illuminated above the stage in plain white text as the band-members emerged, dressed all in white except for the vocalist’s black shirt. Clean and neat, even the drum kit was stripped to bare bones. Plague Vendor were the picture of minimalism.
This minimalism extended into Plague Vendor’s music. What’s interesting is what they are able to build on top of this foundation. Their performance of standout song “New Comedown” captured their creative capabilities perfectly. Luke Perine’s kick drum relentlessly hit on every beat from start to finish; and yet, this predictability gave a driving force to the song. Michael Perez’s bassline consisted of exactly three pitches; and yet, there was hardly a set of hips not hypnotized by its catchy groove. Jay Roger’s reverb-filled guitar solos added extra character to the track, but the real character came from vocalist Brandon Blaine.
With a twang not dissimilar to Jack White, albeit with many times the energy, Blaine’s vocals are a force to be reckoned with. Not quite unbridled, Blaine is like an animal barely restrained, pushing for release. This comes through in his heart-wrenchingly passionate vocals, but it also comes through in his engagement with the performance and with the crowd. Bounding across the stage throughout the set, Blaine’s enthusiasm was matched by the pit forming at the front of the crowd. At turns churning and dancing, at others singing and screaming along with chorus lines like a personalized punk choir, the Music Box crowd was rightly enthralled with Plague Vendor.
Plague Vendor’s performance was a part of 91X’s Inspired By Music Series. Local alternative rockers Demasiado were the opener for the show. Plague Vendor’s performance was also in support of their newly released full-length, By Night. Pain In My Heart is a particularly dark song, but you should probably check out the whole album!