starbilly/by the grace of god review

By Mat Herron

Hardcore kids and the elders of the Louisville club scene meshed July 27 to watch Starbilly, By the Grace of God and Cooler turn it out at the Brewery's Thunderdome.

Featuring Mark Ritcher, K. Scott's older brother, Cooler warmed the crowd over with distorted love songs and tight musicianship. Their music seldom strays from the pop-punk genre, so a steady following in the future is highly likely.

Starbilly's Peter Searcy

Ripping through virtually every song off their new Victory Records disc/seven inch, "For the Love of Indie Rock," By the Grace of God's mid-80's approach to hardcore was well-received by underage and overage attendants alike. Vocalist Rob Pennington was in fine form, despite the absence of his wisdom teeth, giving scene newcomers a lesson in what it's all about. Monstrous versions of their anti-violence anthem, "Goliath," and the staunchly political "November's Lie" carried the desired punch as those in front finished off the ending, "I won't pledge my allegiance to this." At times the sound mix leaned a little too much on the bass, but perfect live mixes are a rarity anyway.

Opening with "Baby Pool," off their Buzz Records release, Peter Searcy and crew berated the Thunderdome with their ball-rocking grooves, gracious hooks, flashes of humor and squeals from guitarist Dave Ernst, a co-host of WXNU's local music show and one of the few people who can introduce a River City band on the radio without sounding idiotic.

Songs like "Lighthouse," "Syrup," and "I Will," as well as the radio friendly "Outlook Inn," all from their new disc, With Loving Care, were particularly moving, though I must admit an acoustic version of "I Will" would have brought the house down. A new tune, "Hollow;" a haunting rendition of Husker Du's "Diane;" a mid-set spill by Searcy and an encore to the Falls Fountain rounded out the show as the crowd walked away awed by the performance.

Or at least, those who actually paid attention.

Nothing has been confirmed regarding the rumors that Starbilly's signing to a major label. However if they do, it's to the music world's benefit, as well as your own.