KEXP Live at Iceland Airwaves, Day 1: The Sonics

Iceland Airwaves
Katy McCourt-Basham
Photos by Jim Bennett

Rounding out an unbelievable first day of KEXP’s Iceland Airwaves broadcast live at Kex Hostel are garage rock legends The Sonics. Formed in Tacoma in 1960, The Sonics are widely regarded as the first garage and first punk band, and have had a wide-reaching influence on the course of garage, punk, and rock history. Their list of hits is so long that it’s tough to even scratch the surface, but they might be most widely for their covers of Richard Berry’s “Have Love, Will Travel” and “Louie Louie,” which may be more famous than the original versions. Rob Lind is the only remaining member of their original lineup, and no one has ever made the Saxophone sound so rock 'n roll. Their current lineup includes legendary drummer Dusty Watson (Agent Orange, The Queers, Lita Ford, The Supersuckers) and bassist Freddie Dennis (Freddie and the Screamers, the Kingsmen, and the Liverpool 5). 

KEX Hostel was packed to the rafters with folks hoping to experience a little slice of rock n' roll history. They donned the stage to deafening applause, and sporting matching embroidered black shirts, launched straight into "Come On Everybody." Bassist and singer Freddie Dennis was ripping it up, and the saxophone has never sounded more punk than it does in the hands of Rob Lind. They did an impressive tour of their discography, from older hits like "The Witch" and "Cinderella" to newer songs like "The Heartland." The set was extremely polished, but still had an element of unpredictability as fits the world's first punk band, with punching drums and lightning-hot guitar licks blasting through the small hostel bar.

When they played the well-loved "Have Love, Will Travel," the audience went wild, shouting, singing, and dancing along. Not only was the crowd having a fantastic time, the band looked like they were having a blast as well. It's unlikely they've played a venue this small for a very long time, and the glee emanating from the audience was infectious. People were moving, grooving, shouting along It's a true pleasure to be able to experience this legendary set. After their last song, they answered the call for an encore, and gave us "Boss Hoss" from Here Are The Sonics, serving as the cherry on top of an absolutely incredible day.

Join us again today at 06:00AM PST/ 09:00AM EST for Icelandic electronic band Samaris.

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