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Sundown on Sunset: The Hard Ponys
06/22/2011
by Music by Sean Patrick, West Hollywood, California


The Hard Ponys at the Cat Club. Photo by Sean Patrick

I’ll say it again: the success of any music project, however one defines success, has to start with the love first; the love of writing, the love of playing, and the dedication to get in the van and take it on the road.

If you’re not having fun, it’s going to show, and what would be the point?


The Hard Ponys at the Cat Club. Photo by Sean Patrick

After over ten years of playing together, working different projects, and re-inventing themselves, The Hard Ponys prove that the love is still there.

Through their thoughtful friends and family, I heard about their show at the Cat Club on the Sunset Strip, and headed out for a Friday night of infectious riffs, tight playing, and a good mix of in-your-face lyrics with a definite sense of humor. These guys are good, and the show rocked.

I never got a chance to look at the van. In fact, there probably wasn’t one, but these guys all took their life stories, and brought them down to the Strip from San Francisco, and within the first few notes they were having more fun than the audience.

They’re a wild mix of 70’s and 80’s rock, a little punk, with fresh riffs and a lot of hair. Lead singer Lance Eason flailed around the stage, pumping that microphone full of fun, and the energy of a band in their teens.

Their opener, “House of Cards”, cracked that euphemistic van’s window with their intentions. “I didn’t come here, baby, just to watch your serious side. I made no plans to stay, ain’t gonna hold you through the night.” It was already a rocker’s anthem. “You’ve got some more mistakes to try, and truly, so have I”. They were just warming up.

“Last night I got a little bit light; I could hear the voice inside my head. You never stopped talking, but I never heard a word you said.” Was “I Lied” written from inside an idea, or did they really sleep in the park?


The Hard Ponys at the Cat Club. Photo by Sean Patrick

Every song, alongside the great playing and memorable chords, gave me a picture of a hard-core, rock-bottom rock band sleeping in their clothes, and selling T-shirts for picks and gas money, in a good way.

It was sort of like watching a movie wherein you forget that the one playing the psycho is an actor…I believed. For the length of the set, I felt like I was tattooed and pierced, and sitting on the floor of an old school bus, bouncing down the road, with my only possessions being a guitar and my motorcycle jacket.

“Dogs”, for me is where that surface evil was offset by an innate sense of humor, and pretty much defined the band. “You think you’ve seen the last of me, but don’t fall asleep tonight. I’m lurking here in the shadows, and all I want is just another bite.”

There’s a definite vampire-esque feel to it, but don’t stop listening. “I come to you like a smoke-filled dream while I’m lying in your bed.”

The lyrics twist the loyalty of man’s best friend into something you shouldn’t have trusted. Reach out to pet him, and you get a dose of reality. This dog is junkyard.

Daniel Nolan launched into a guitar solo that fried the stage, and Robert Rohde on bass melded with the drums played by Jim Clenney to create a song that I walked away with.

In a true punk fashion, The Hard Ponys sing a love song called, “Hate”. The love is for the one on the other side of the bed, the hate is in the mirror. “Got almost no feelings left that aren’t overcome by doubt, but there’s a light in side of you I know can’t be put out.”

The lyrics belie a lover on the border of insanity, trying to hold on to whatever scraps of good that haven’t fallen into the abyss. “You’re my reason to live, you’re my reason to die.”


The Hard Ponys at the Cat Club. Photo by Sean Patrick

The crazy part is that it speaks to all of us; everyone thinks they’re in control until love strikes.

Whatever your music tastes, your political views, or your life’s circumstances, we all seem to be taught the same thing: there’s a perfect match somewhere for you.

That doesn’t mean the perfect match is a perfect person, and sometimes the pieces that fit are the jagged ones.

“Psychodoll”, in its driving beat and punching-bag feeling, could actually be the same as a skip through the flowers for someone else. “Half mad with passion, and I don’t know right from wrong.”

It seems to be a love that works because it’s so flawed. “I’m your little wind-up toy, be my psychodoll. Take me, I’m your little boy, just be my psychodoll.”

They might have pulled that one off too well, as at least one fan later followed them out the door and down the street to their hotel. You know you’re good when you’re finally being stalked.

After the show, we all hung out together, and the guys with burning eyes became soft-spoken, more straight-laced-than-you’d-think gentlemen.

Lance’s sister and mom were there, supporting and laughing, and the genuine sense of fun flowed off the stage and into the patio chairs in back of the Cat Club.

It was easy to tell that they’d been together a long time, and that the trip down for the show was worth it. Their album is aptly called “The Hard Ponys” and is available at www.TheHardPonys.com. It was an evil, psychotic blast.

Sean Patrick is a musician, writer, and WeHo News’ Sunset Strip reporter. Catch his latest at www.SeanPatrick.us

 

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