Maximum Ames Music Festival Concert Review: Jon Wayne and the Pain with Dead Larry


John Wayne and The Pain performs at DG’s Taphouse on Friday as part of the Maximum Ames Music Festival.

Greg Zwiers

The concertgoers swayed from side to side, their feet hardly moving as they grooved to the reggae beats blaring through the speakers at DG’s Tap House for Maximum Ames Music Festival. The stench of burned marijuana followed a group of girls wearing knitted baja sweaters as they joined the crowd, and quickly filled the smoky bar.

It was quite a departure from the atmosphere that filled the room an hour earlier, but the crowd cheered just as loud listening to Jon Wayne and the Pain as for Dead Larry’s funk infused rock.

The bar never saw less than 50 people while the bands were performing, peaking at about 100 right before the middle of Jon Wayne and the Pain’s set.

Dead Larry kicked off the night in high gear with a lyrical style that ran the gamut from guttural grunge to high pitched screams with a hint of 80s stadium rock in between. The skillful slap bass, when mixed with the band’s synthesizers, gave a new-age funk feel behind an instrumental variety as wide as the singing.

An electric fan sitting on top of a smoke machine on stage spread a haze through the bar that mixed with the occasional e-cigarette cloud and became so thick by the end of the night that trying to take photos from a cellphone was pointless.

The hallmark of Dead Larry was their ability to change styles seamlessly, often multiple times in the middle of a song while keeping the crowd excited and engaged the whole time.

Jon Wayne and the Pain began in the vein of Sublime with high tempo and clear lyrics and quickly gave way to a very technical but mellow reggae sound that included flute, electric clarinet, and tenor saxophone.

They ended on a high note, with the music taking on a ska quality for the last three songs following a single acoustic track to fix technical issues. Their revamped energy brought on chants of “One more song!” as the band put their instruments down and left the stage.

The two band’s stage personas were as different as their musical styles, with Jon Wayne and the Pain leaning more toward a jam session and Dead Larry toward a stadium performance.

I thought Jon Wayne and the Pain’s more upbeat music was very enjoyable, but found it hard to stay engaged with the more technical chill-out pieces, but I was clearly in the minority of the DG’s Tap House crowd as the cheers after every song reverberated against the walls. I found it similar to jazz music, where they clearly have talent, but not everyone is going to like it.

I will definitely buy music from Dead Larry and am looking forward to their upcoming album, which they played a few tracks from. They had great energy and a funk style that makes it hard to stand still.