Hungry Skinny hustles.
That’s why the San Francisco band is on the fast track to widespread success and it’s the reason it is so infectiously entertaining.
A small, unassuming crowd of well-dressed dinner daters at downtown Reno’s Pignic Pub & Patio saw the Hungry Skinny on May 29. As a band on the road, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the undercurrent of anxiety brought on by a poorly attended show. However, Hungry Skinny reveled in the fact that it was able to play to a different demographic on a beautiful evening on Pignic’s outside stage. The players were unabashedly themselves and, song by song, turned the patio into a rock and roll refuge.
Hungry Skinny didn’t let up as the dance floor filled. The members beamed and joked and churned out their own swaggering brand of post-classic rock. Influenced by bands like the Doors and Velvet Underground, Hungry Skinny has sculpted a sound that is completely its own without straying from the rock and roll format. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Garrett Riley’s elastic vocals are tastefully unsteady in the tradition of early Mick Jagger. He controlled the venue as he sang and screamed with abandon and performed just the same.
Bassist Sean Russo Paulhus and drummer Ty Thorpe make up the funky yet driving rhythm section that gave original songs like “Hot Dang” and “Git Along” their sense of danceability. Swingman Remy Vale’s guitar playing, backing vocals and occasional trumpet contributions peppered the performance with unpredictability and neutralized any element of redundancy. His playing was precise and calculated as he sat atop the mix. Highlights of the set included the bouncy dance tune “Nasty Sunshine” and the encore, “Pastry Time,” which painted Hungry Skinny as a hipper, looser Spin Doctors or a less hackneyed Jet. Their stage presence was just as important as their music; they didn’t stop moving, they used the venue to their advantage and they tried their damndest to have more fun than anyone in the crowd. Fun is contagious.
Coming from the band-rich city of San Francisco, the Hungry Skinny boys understand the importance of gaining separation from the pack and a strong work ethic is what has made that goal so feasible. A heavy touring schedule and regular releases of high energy material have driven the group to a higher plane of popularity both in the city and abroad.
The road is tough, but the road is good. With a diet of gas-station food and an almost nonexistent sleep schedule, it can be difficult to perform with such fervor every night of tour. But it’s Hungry Skinny’s understanding of its strong suit as being entertainers who keep working to make a spectacle of themselves. I’ve been lucky enough to see the band a handful of occasions in different cities and, with each show, its work ethic is center stage.
Odds are that Hungry Skinny will be in your town soon. They’ll be the ones writhing, sweating and working their asses off to supply their own style of high flying rock. Get to the club, watch them play and admire their hustle.