Thursday night at Carlsbad’s Boar Cross’n, Shake Before Us cooked up a livid set of measured chaos. They have a fine knack, whether on purpose or not, of tilting on the edge of derailment. They seem to get some guilty pleasure from taking their songs to the edge, finding a shaky balance, and then returning to safer, steady ground for their landing. This meld of raucous, rocking disorder quickly won the crowd over and held them in their hands ’til the last cymbal crashed.

The keyboard and background vocal shenanigans of Will A. Lerner really give this band that extra oomph, separating them from just any old 4-piece rock outfit. Lerner’s keys–whiny and groovy and sometimes all over the place–egg on the solid back beat of drummer Fonda and his bass player and partner in crime Kevin “Cuz” Donahue. This extra thick bottom helps front man and lead singer/guitarist Jesse Pryo stir up a rocking concoction of danceable grooves.

Shake Before Us likes to time machine back and forth, dipping into the 60’s for something vintage, then detonating into a sci-fi freak out. This wall of sound, played with the volume way up, creates a primitive vibe that had the band in high gear throughout their set. Their choice of the Sonics cover “Strychnine” slipped hand-in-glove perfectly into their finely seasoned depth of originals.

A sign of a good band is one that can walk into any club, any room, any stage, and still deliver. And even though it’s not the Casbah, or the Soda Bar, or even The Belly Up, Shake Before Us still fired up and brought it like they were playing one of San Diego’s more prestigious bandstands.

The opening act was the North County band The Paragraphs. I arrived a little late and sadly, only caught their last few songs. The Paragraphs, who have garnered a Best Rock Album nomination at this year’s San Diego Music Awards for their ass-kicking record +/-, are a straight-ahead rock foursome. Lucky for me, I did get a chance to hear my favorite song “Wolf” from said nominated record before their set was through. You have my word, guys, that I will get there early next time!

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