Substitute for some other guys

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Fri May 4 06:58:03 CDT 2007

>From the Corvallis (Oregon) Gazette-Times:

...This weekend, two more bands spread the love when Substitute, a tribute to The Who, and Cold Hard Cash, a tribute to — well, you figure it out — crash the stage at Bombs Away Cafe at 9:30 p.m. The cost is $5, and that’s pretty cheap, when you think about it, for a trip back in time.

Substitute for some other guys

Formed after vocalist and rhythm guitarist John Huyck took in a performance by Stairway, Substitute has managed to tap into the primal, proto-punk spirit at the core of much of The Who’s work.

“I’m a hardcore Who freak,” he says. “Pete Townsend’s my hero. I’ve listened to The Who every day since I was 12.”

That obsession shows in the group’s — Sam Kincaid (lead guitar), Jake Sellers (drums) and Matt McCluskey (bass) — fiery, nimble re-creation of what are often much more complex compositions than The Who is given credit for.

“They had incredibly virtuosic bass and drum work,” says Kincaid, who works as an instructor in OSU’s Music Department.

“You had to be way more on back then,” Sellers adds.

As the band runs through tight versions of “Happy Jack” and “Young Man Blues” at its practice space in South Corvallis, it becomes obvious that you have to be “on” now just to be able to pull these songs off.

And yet while Stairway’s tribute to Zep often comes off as the mirror image of their muses’ music, Substitute seems more of a reinterpretation, a distillation of the songs through the still of modern ears and into a crunchier, grittier concoction.

Huyck’s vocals depart from the often smooth bellow of Roger Daltry and sound more like Question Mark or Captain Beefheart fronting for The Who. His junkyard growl on “Summertime Blues,” for instance, hearkens back to the garage rock and primal blues that likely informed Daltry, Pete Townsend and company in the early ’70s.

Audiences can rest assured, however, that the spirit of The Who is fully intact, as Kincaid’s searing yet restrained solos and Sellers’ pummeling drumming both perfectly echo their counterparts in the original lineup. At times, you can almost hear Townsend and Keith Moon bickering over the latter’s incessant practical jokes between songs. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Who concert without some wild jumping about, pinwheeling arms and serious smashing of instruments. While Substitute might be a bit more subdued than the original band in that last sense, it doesn’t stop the members discussing which guitar might be sacrificed Friday night.

“I had to buy a longer cord so I could jump off the stage,” Kincaid throws in.
-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!
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