Natalie Barille and Sam Meister form to create mr. Gnome, a hard-psych rock duo hailing from Cleveland, OH. Every year, around December, they can be found doing a short run of small concerts in the area, and usually stick to a few hundred miles of their home. This year was no different, and those who have caught them before were excited (and a bit surprised) to see them playing the same, small venue they have come to frequent in the past few years: Lexington’s own Green Lantern Bar.
mr. Gnome played the Green Lantern on Friday, November 27th, the day after Thanksgiving. It was an easy decision to cut the family festivities short in order to make it to what was sure to be a barn-burner of a show. I have seen this show before, in the same bar, and they always crush it, filling the place to capacity and with sweaty, dancing bodies and deafening noise. They’re one of the few bands I’ve seen that can incite a near-riot without or prompting the crowd to do so, and this concert was no different.
The band played a solid 45-minute set spanning their four-LP catalogue, and pulled in some new material from the yet-to-be-titled LP5. Sam, playing drums while barefoot (and keys) kept the beat, sound tracking the unruly mosh pit that seemed to grow the entire show, despite the small, crowded room being at capacity from the first song. As always, the petite lead singer, Natalie, belted the loud, booming lyrics from behind the dark curls of hair draped down her face, with a sound so big you wonder how such a commanding presence is created by someone so unassuming. Indeed, big things come in small, loud packages.
As the set progressed, we were treated to a new, third member of mr. Gnome, who played backup guitar for a couple songs, indicating we can expect a more full, wider sound in the new album. On the new material, the Gnomes seem to be branching out, creating some rock ballads, similar to that of the song “Light” off 2014’s The Heart of a Dark Star.
With four, soon to be five, albums in rotation, one has to wonder why mr. Gnome is still frequenting the small dive bars they’ve been touring for years. Why not expand, and travel to larger-capacity venues in the area? Because the Green Lantern is a bar first, and a performance venue second: the perfect place for Natalie and Sam’s music. The no frills, take-us-as-we-are vibe that the Lantern exudes matches the band perfectly and can be summed up by the bar’s homage to The Big Easy, New Orleans, with multiple signs donning the city’s catch phrase “laissez les bons temps rouler.” Taking that as our que, we certainly “let the good times roll” and look forward to the next dark, rowdy and sweaty rock show from mr. Gnome.
Be sure to check out all things mr. Gnome on their website, and be on the look out for LP 5 due out in early 2016.