Last Friday was a packed night at the backroom at Starline Social Club in Oakland,CA. Van Goat really knows how to throw a party and who to invite. The backroom behind the bar had a great house show vibe with no designated performance area with the exception of a carpet. This really worked well with the punk vibe of the night. If you are looking for animal puns and a rocking good time, then the guys in Van Goat have you covered. Thankfully not much has changed since their moniker change from Bear Lincoln. The lineup is still the same; the members are just playing tighter, faster, and stronger than ever as they have reincarnated themselves as Van Goat.
It was Ben Einstein (Keyboards/Pineapple/Vocals) who introduced me to the first incarnation of the band last year. I was instantly hooked with their catchy lyrics, fun puns, and quirky sense of humor. The band was masterfully mixing Swing, Surf, Punk, and Pineapples into a magical concoction.
Along with Ben Einstein, Van Goat includes Aidan Ward (Lead Vocals/Guitar/ Clarinet) a truly great front man with some creative uses for a clarinet. They pair well with Derek Burle (Bass/ Vocals) who plays his funky bass like he is making love to it. Last, but definitely not least, Taylor Moxon (Drums/ Percussion) holds it all together via the drum kits. Each member brings their own personality to the mix, creating an ensemble truly greater than the individual talented musicians involved.
The show was presented by OIM (Oaktown Indie Mayhem) and run by Sarah Sexton. If you haven’t heard of her or OIM, you should definitely check them out. She is one of the greats who helps to keep music thriving in the East Bay. It is great to see them supporting the smaller independent acts as well as helping the music scene grow in the Bay Area.
Kicking off the night was the 4-piece Failure Machine in from Reno, NV. They were the smallest band to hit the stage during the evening but they easily held their own. They opened with one of the best renditions of “Knock on Wood” I have personally heard. The set continued with popular covers which incorporated their own unique brand of southern garage rock and soul sound.
Oakland’s own Johnny Soultrain brought the funk and soul with a big band that barely fit in the room. They easily blew away the packed room with their big band sound. If you are looking for some throwback funky soul and blues, Johnny Soultrain will not let you down. They have a full 7-piece band that boomed throughout the small room. The song “Whiskey Bottle” off their EP of the same name is a great blues rendition that really got everyone in the audience swaying.
The grand finale of the night, Van Goat’s reveal to the world, was everything anyone could want from their “first show.” It was raucous, wild, and amazing. The room was packed from the carpet to the back wall with fans dancing and getting down to their unique brand of music. Van Goat played some of their new songs including their brand new single “So.” It was great to finally hear them live for the first time and the crowd was really feeling the reincarnated vibe. They also played some fan favorites from their days as Bear Lincoln. The crowd went wild over their “Willie the Weeper & Minnie the Moocher.” They truly know how to breathe new life into an old jazz standard. They ended the night by bringing all of the horn players back up on stage before they waded into the crowd for a massive dance party.
Links to check out all the bands, venue, and Organization mentioned in this post:
Van Goat – http://www.vangoatband.com/
Johnny Soultrain – https://johnnysoultrain.com/
Failure Machine – https://failuremachine.bandcamp.com/
Starline Social Club – http://www.starlinesocialclub.com/