Dimitri Coats looks a bit like a young Ted Nugent, but the shaggy Burning Brides frontman is a more refined breed of rock animal. His guitar sound is muscular, but it doesn't drip with testosterone, and his songs are smartly raucous, not blissfully stupid.
On Monday night at the Black Cat, Coats and his band mates -- drummer Mike Ambs and bassist Melanie Campbell -- proved that their punk-metal hybrid is far from turning stale.
The songs from the Philadelphia band's second disc, this year's "Leave No Ashes," borrow liberally from the hard-rock canon: AC/DC, Black Sabbath and perhaps most important, Nirvana. Although almost every one of Coats's riffs was huge, he showed Kurt Cobain's knack for avoiding the cartoonish.
One high point came early: The midtempo "Come Alive" put the Burning Brides in a proper groove, with Ambs and Campbell laying back and Coats letting the riffs roll. Afterward, most of "Leave No Ashes" was represented, from the amped-up Brit-pop hooks of "Dance With the Devil" to the stoner stomp of "To Kill a Swan" and "King of the Demimonde."
Two songs from 2001's "Fall of the Plastic Empire" also stood out: "Glass Slipper" smoked and "Arctic Snow" made the most of its Cobain influence.
From the crowd there was goodwill all around, especially considering that it was a Monday night. Campbell in particular seemed to grin the entire show, slapping hands occasionally with the dudes ogling her from the front row. The Nuge would've approved.
-- Joe Warminsky