Baseball is not a game known for its brevity, but that didn't stop local sludge-rock duo Slugging Percentage from blasting through the entirety of its set in just a shade over 15 minutes during a recent Thursday stop at Used Kids Records.
Baseball is not a game known for its brevity, but that didn’t stop local sludge-rock duo Slugging Percentage from blasting through the entirety of its set in just a shade over 15 minutes during a recent Thursday stop at Used Kids Records.
The group, comprised of singer/guitarist Andy Gardner and singer/drummer Ryan Starinsky, approached the performance as though it were an actual sporting event, and the evening included time for a national anthem (actually “Common Man Boogie” played in tribute to wrestler Dusty Rhodes, who died the morning of the show), a ceremonial first pitch, and a seventh-inning stretch where the audience joined together in a boisterous version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
The bandmates also dressed in full-on baseball uniforms (complete with eye black on Starinsky) and scattered bases around the stage, which a handful of audience members circled during one song dedicated to retired Kansas City Royals third baseman George Brett.
Slugging Percentage, which rarely performs — “We’ve been in the offseason for a while, if you know what I mean,” Gardner said at the onset — appeared here in support of its latest cassette release, and any lingering rust only added to the viciousness of its noise-rock output. Songs were generally short and scrappy, built around simple, shouted refrains (“Orioles baseball!”; “Mercy rule!”), cantankerous guitar and thundering drums, with Starinsky walloping his kit like Miguel Cabrera putting wood to a fat, middle-of-the-plate fastball.
Occasionally the pair touched on meatier issues, like the economic disparity that breeds competitive disadvantage (on one song inspired by controversial New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner), but more often the tunes were loose and casual, rooted in the simple pleasures of watching Mariano Rivera unleash his near-unhittable cutter or taking in a double-header at Baltimore’s Camden Yards (“Orioles Baseball,” a song Gardner said has actually been broadcast inside the stadium on game day).
It’s a sense of fun that carried through the entirety of the performance, from Gardner’s beaming introduction — “Welcome to Used Kids Stadium!”— right through a final trip around the base paths on a rumbling, cranky number that mirrored a home plate collision.