The Dukes Are Dead : Fountain Square Cincinnati : August 12

Ding dong.  The Dukes are Dead.

After being threatened with legal action by the douche bags at Warner Bros., favorite Cincinnati up-and-comers The Dukes have been forced to reinvent themselves.  Though the original Dukes were short lived (1978-1979) and imploded after the overdose of one of their members, our Dukes keep moving forward undaunted and have hyped their name change for weeks leading up to their performance last night as part of the MPMF Indie Music Series.

However, despite the buildup of the name change, the announcement itself was a bit of a letdown – not much more than the new t-shirts being unrolled at the merch table.  If they said something from on stage, it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.  Their new name however, is a good one.  “The Dukes are Dead” still keeps the classic rock vibe of their original name, but adds a big middle finger to the haters [Warner?]  It is more Dukes than The Dukes.

But no matter what a band wants to call themselves, the only thing that counts for anything is how they can play.  And these boys can play.  One of the stand out acts at this year’s Punk Fest at the Southgate House, I always look forward to hearing them play.  Expectations are high, but they conquered the massive stage at Southgate’s ballroom without even blinking so I was eager to see how they’d fare on a large, outdoor stage.

The Dukes may be dead, but they are proving to be unstoppable.  No matter what variables are thrown at them, they steam forward like a freight train of hard, gritty, mustachioed rock and roll.  Though the set did not include any of the antics that the band are famous for [maybe because there were no real rafters to hang from] it was certainly solid.  Luke Darling and Lucas Frazier took turns turns fronting the hard blues machine while bassist Randy Proctor proved he is the funkiest ginger in all of Hazzard County.  David Reid seems almost zen-like behind the drums compared to the rest of the band, but his hard driving rhythms act as the heartbeat to the howling blues guitars the rest of the band lays down.  Together they mix to create the filthy blues-rock sound that just makes you want to get sweaty.  In a really good way.

This inevitably will be only one of many snags this growing band will face over time, however if they face every challenge with as much good humor and enthusiasm as this one they should age like a fine scotch.  And if they continue to put on performances like this one, they’ll be around for a long time.  The Dukes are dead, and everything is as it should be.

by Adrienne Panveno