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Live Review and Photos: Born Ruffians, April 16, 2013, Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY


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Born Ruffians celebrated the release of their third LP, Birth Marks, with a lively, sold out show at the Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday. Longtime fans made a point of showing up as soon as the doors opened, and I was fortunate enough to snag the last open space up front – right next to a group of especially drunk young women. Their enthusiasm throughout the opening acts, Ski Lodge and Moon King, grated on me at first. But it was early in Born Ruffiansʼ set that I realized that there are too few bands in existence whose fans know every single word to every single song, and will sing along till their throats give out. Born Ruffians are such a band.

“Iʼve been to eight of their shows. Theyʼre such great guys. They deserve it so
much,” a tall fan in a black hoodie said to me before their set–and I couldnʼt be sure, because of the height difference, but I think there might have been tears in his eyes. Itʼs through this kind of earnestness that Born Ruffians have earned their following. Straightforward, honest songs like “What to Say” are all the more disarming live; adolescent awkwardness never sounded quite so danceable. It was hard not to follow Luke Lalondeʼs example, watching him skitter across the stage during particularly energetic solos, almost as though he were channeling Duckieʼs Otis Redding dance, while Mitch Derosier worked up the sweat of a thousand men and encouraged us to clap along and do the same.

I wonʼt dance around the point, here. I gave in. Born Ruffians are cute. In fact, theyʼre not just cute–theyʼre fucking precious. Derosierʼs just so goddamn hammy. Lalondeʼs just so goddamn quiet. The banter, measured out in perfectly small doses – Christ, there are so many bands out there who are awful at banter. Born Ruffians are not such a band. Their faster songs are just so goddamn giddy!

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The decision to fill the set with older favorites seemed to be a concession to the fans who have watched them grow over the years–those fans who, like birth marks, have stuck with them from the beginning. Set against newer, soberer tracks like “Needles,” the earlier, more raucous tracks like “I Need a Life” evoked the finitude of childhood.

The crowd sang along to just about every song on the setlist–but the first song of the encore, “Little Garcon,” stuck out in particular: “I donʼt care where you go, / As long as itʼs with me.” Wherever Born Ruffiansʼ career takes them next, their fans are sure to follow.


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