During two nights of reunion concerts (for the second year of what is intended as an annual tradition), the Akron five-piece went back 25 years using its Rust Belt rock-and-roll magic, to a time when downtown clubs like the Bank hosted great local acts such as Devo, the Waitresses, and the Rubber City Rebels (of which Hammer Damage was a splinter group).
Fans of the band packed the bar both nights, sporting ragged Akron rock T-shirts, receding hairlines, and dance moves that were bad three decades ago. They came to watch Donny Damage (aka Dave Zagar), still swaggering with well-aged cool and sex appeal, lead the group through two sets of grinding new-wave guitar rock.
Damage wielded both guitar and tambourine, while laying down strong vocal grooves to the originals "Automatic Lips" and "Night People," as well as such classic covers as the Doors' "Love Me Two Times." Music shook the room, thanks to the thundering volleys of the four-guitar assault, fronted by George Cabaniss (also of the Dead Boys) and Kal Mullens, lobbing guitar solos like Molotov cocktails. Everyone took a turn on vocals, including bassist Scott Winkler, who delivered a scorching rendition of "Mercenary Love," while drummer Mike Hammer beat the skins with a fury worthy of his last name.
As the music died down, fans screamed for more of that buzzsaw rock (and a few fights even broke out). Damage promised, "We're going to try to do this more often," then launched into the wicked riff of "Noise Pollution," sending the crowd spiraling down that dance-floor time portal one last time.
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