Jercs lead vocalist Harve Cozad made a quick announcement right before his band played what might be their tightest and most rocking show to date: "If you liked the first two bands, you're gonna hate us." Boy, was he ever right. It was a recent Saturday night. A sparse crowd, most of whom were ladiesthere to see stoner-rockers Tidal Hornescaped up the stairs and out onto the streets as soon as Cozad let out a scream designed to upset. The band stepped to it and blazed through some '80s-esque hardcore riffs. By the end of that tune, there were only a dozen of us left inside the Palace, the air as wet and sticky as the bathroom floors, a perfect environment for a mishmash of beer-soaked punk rock styles delivered with alacrity and fervor. Admittedly, during the interview portion of the evening, I somehow became involved in the beer soaking while at the Golden Rose. A table-full of PBR cans led to secret sharing and hugs. But these guys are more into the music than they are the beer. Four out of five of them work in the food service industry and often put in long, abnormal hours. A Saturday night out on the town is an oddity for this blue collar crew and they were merely taking advantage. Besides, every once in a while you've got to get drunk with the Jercs and talk about menus. Or Rush. Or handy j's. Or how you got high for the first time in seventh grade. Or how at the age of 23 you've already kicked a bad habit. Or how long ago, I played in Cozad and drummer Jesse Naab's band Post Boredom Riot for two shows (like the man says, cocaine is a helluva drug). Anything goes with this crew, from the prurient to the maudlin. That goes for their tunes, too. Songs like "DBBL" shamelessly spout "Oi! Oi! Oi!" in the chorus without a lick of irony, while "Montana" catches a Bird's Mile Home and hometown-pride vibe with its guaranteed sing-along chorus, "It's our, it's our Missoula / It's our, it's our Montana." It's the verses where Cozad audaciously shares his feelings that demonstrate some gravity: "Then that day I met my beautiful wife / And she changed my life / Stopped my dumb ass from drinking all day / Just to pass the time away."
As sentimental as "Montana" may sound, the Jercs are, well, jerks and unabashedly so. They aren't afraid to do a butt-rocking number called "Caveman" wherein Cozad and company bellow all that is amazing about our forebears: "Caveman, they invented the wheel / Caveman, dragged the women by hair / Caveman, liked peanut butter sandwiches / Caveman, they were metal gods." The Jercs keep things simple and straight-up on "Political Song." Reminiscent of the hardcore that ruled the Reagan-hating '80s, the Jercs are ready to revolt against the political establishment and with a nod and a wink let us know they have had enough of "George W. Obama." One might come to the conclusion that a band that hops around all the punk sub-genres is simply seeking out its own sound, trying to discover their own voice, but guitarist Jake "Wheels" Wheeler explains, "We're a punk cover band; we just don't play covers." So much for that explanation. Onstage, they joyously mock the establishment and rock and roll tropes. Shirts come off. Pale, fleshy bodies are exposed, bosoms are ample. Heads are banged. Fun is had. The Jercs are as pleased as they are surprised by their performance.
Maybe they aren't jerks after all.
The Jercs tour kick-off show and CD release takes place at the VFW, 245 W. Main St., Wed., Aug. 15, at 9 PM, with Shramana, Old Black and Petunia. $3.