Gritty rock and rock played effortlessly and explosively.
The three seasoned members of Tres Mts crossed paths many years before actually getting together in 2010 to lay down the tracks on their debut Three Mountains. Bassist Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam), singer dUg Pinnick (King’s X) and drummer Richard Stuverud (Fastbacks) form the core of the band, but on tour they welcomed guitarist Mike McCready (Pearl Jam). In the waning winter of 2011, their handful of appearances in the US included Seattle, Austin for SXSW, four stops on the eastern seaboard plus an appearance on Jimmy Fallon.
Each musician is a solid rocker in his own right, and the songs demonstrated their tremendous power. Though few of the tunes (especially on the album) feel fused together, as if the parts were always greater the sum, the hour plus performance in New York was an incredibly charged performance. The blend of rock, grunge, punk, and rhythm and blues was tireless and effortless as well. It was clear many fans at the Gramercy Theater were drawn-in because of the band’s Pearl Jam connection. These folks gathered on McCready’s side of the stage in the hopes of getting one of the handful of his guitar picks or band stickers tossed out. But McCready’s energetic guitar playing is only a small element of the band’s temperament. While Stuverud’s deft hands pounded out the malleable rhythm with great ferocity, Pinnick’s tremendous voice challenged the gods (or at least the pope) and Ament’s stoic resolve kept deep bass pulsing in their veins.
The track “God Told Me”, dedicated to the pope, added some gospel to the mix but, along with “Oh Lord”, turned me off because of the religious overtones. Most other songs avoided this pitfall fortunately. Pinnick briefly expressed his blues when he shouted “my baby left me”, from lead single “My Baby”, then the rest of the band aggressively jumped in. With its dusky vibe, “Make Me Feel” reminded me favorably of another PJ-related band, Brad. Their finale consisted of a trio of riotous covers, Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home is a Heartache”, ZZ Tops’ “La Grange” and, for the finale, Hendrix’s “Fire”, where McCready played guitar behind his head to the adoration of the crowd.
Tres Mts members are strong dynamic musicians who would easily attain more than side-project status. Hopefully they find the right dynamic of songwriting and release another, more taut, album. But if Tres Mts ever tours again, I advise guitar rock fans to check them out; the ratio of performer talent to ticket cost will be in your favor. Expect a highly combustible night of rock that will surely light your fire.
Brad Klausen Tour Poster