On their Facebook page, Rochester-based band Walrus Junction calls themselves fuzz pop mixed with “raw, gritty tones and lyrics of early garage rock” and “catchy hooks” of modern pop. Their cover photo is a walrus skull clutching a rose in its mouth — which, honestly, made me think they were going to be too edgy for their own good — but their concert on Thursday night at Montage Music Hall was full of heart and really good music.
My friends and I missed the opening act because of college shenanigans and we showed up right as Walrus Junction was starting on stage. They had the look of a college band bonded since boyhood, all sneakers and smiles. “This is my band!” the leader singer yelled into the mic before their set. He wore a PWR BTTM t-shirt and was totally gripped by the comradery of his mates. Their styles were different, from the shaggy bass player to the clean-cut guitarist to the stoic drummer, but they thrashed in complete confidence together.
We, as audience members, were small but wouldn’t stop dancing. Their sound soared from psychedelic rock to surf rock to indie folk, and we ate it all up. Between heartfelt guitar riffs and drum solos, nostalgic lyrics of high school experiences brought us to the front of the room. Their song “Drunk Girls” had all the girls pounding their fists on the stage, drunk or not.
“I wrote this song when I was nineteen,” the lead singer announced.
“That’s me!” the girl in front of me said. “I’m nineteen!”
They sang about boys, too, friendship, scraggly attempts at love, and driving in cars with the windows down. It was like being in somebody’s carpeted basement with your edgy art school friends. Their slower ballads swayed from indie rock to indie pop. One of them ended with a yearning refrain — “I’ll always be yours if you’re always be mine” — that got friends and lovers squeezing each other’s hands.
Besides the ability of a grungy group like this to unite a college audience with spirit, the music itself was lyrically and musically complex and crossed genres with youthful ambition. Walrus Junction seemed to get more confident in their sound as the show went on, based on the audience’s response. The lead singer slumped between the front of the stage to the back and eventually dropped to the ground as the band played on. When he stood up, his pants were dirty with grime from a dive bar stage, and he let his arms hang open wide. They filed offstage without an encore, but left the room vibrating with noise. To be young, to be in college!