It’s a calm cool Saturday night as I make my way into Houma’s downtown nightlife scene. My destination is The Boxer and The Barrel. The intimate bar setting is currently packed with so many people that moving is a challenge. Everyone’s eyes are drawn to the stage, transfixed on the band that they either came to see or can’t help admiring now.
The band is Secret Society in Smaller Lies, and they are by far one of the single, most original acts currently representing Houma.
The music is a mixture of incredibly complex riffs, performed flawlessly live, accompanied by driving bass, earth shattering drum beats and metaphoric lyrics topped off by pleasing synth melodies.
The live performance literally commands the attention of the audience, and they feel compelled to oblige.
The tunes range from a fast and aggressive pace to a more steady poppy sound. Nothing that I’m hearing is unpleasant; to the contrary, I’m finding myself wanting the next song to start as soon as one ends.
When the show is over, I don’t just want an encore, I want another set, or even just the same one played again. It’s this intensity that has kept me hungering for more and catching every SSISL show that I possibly can.
Secret Society is made up of Joe Harp who does an excellent job on both synthesizer and lead vocals; Bill Mountain and Christian Yates complement each other extremely well on guitar; Cory Bergeron is, in my best explanation, a beast on the bass guitar; lastly, Tony Bergeron rounds out the bunch, and brings the music to another level with the insane drum beats that he executes with precision and grace.
The only outcome to having these musicians together is the beautiful progressively alternative experimental rock music that they make.
The band has an incredibly devoted fan base. Familiar faces line the crowd of every show. When speaking with general members of the crowd, asking who they came to see, the answer is clear. “I drove into town tonight from Baton Rouge to catch this show and I would have come from much farther to catch an awesome show like this.” says one patron.
Another says “I’ve never missed a SSISL show and I don’t plan on it anytime soon.” This is the sentiment that echoes through the multitude of people that surround me.
The band’s popularity extends beyond the state border. SSISL had a cover of their song “Little White Horses” recorded by Columboid from Brooklyn N.Y., which is a huge complement for an original band.
The devotion to Secret Society, by their fans, is just what we need to continue building our local music and art scene.
“To tell the truth we wouldn’t be here without them (our fans),” Tony says. “They help us so much with everything from hauling equipment, spreading the word about shows on the net, or giving us a ride to out-of-town shows, which helps so much. We just want to thank them so much.”
Tony and Bill Mountain set the foundation for SSISL. They started playing together in 2007.
“We were just playing in garages with friends trying to find that perfect balance between music and friendship,” Tony says. “Joe came to jam with us a few times and he fit like a glove. Then an old roommate, from my Houston days, Christian, called and said he was ready to play with other musicians who felt his passion for being in a band that tried to accomplish something. He moved down from northern Louisiana to join the band. We finally posted on Facebook that we were looking for a bassist and Cory responded. He was already our longtime friend, and we jammed with him in the past.
“It was mainly about putting something together that just completely gelled. We wrote some music and finally played our first show in January of 2010.”
I asked Tony what it was like to work with the other musicians in the band. “Man it’s really cool. Everyone in the band writes, so we all feel liberated doing this. We all get a chance to express ourselves in this project.”
SSISL next plays Oct. 6 at the Cajun Rollergirls’ Dance of the Dead, hosted at The Boxer and The Barrel.
If you live in Houma, and you can’t wait to discover another remarkable original band, then look no further than Secret Society in Smaller Lies. In my estimation, if there is any chance of an original band making something of themselves, it has to be this one. The amount of talent alone deserves the recognition of critics and fans alike, and the creativity speaks for itself.
Check them out for yourself on Facebook, ReverbNation, and YouTube. Houma is becoming a destination for people from surrounding areas, and it’s in part because of the music being made here.
– Alex Martin is a local musician and thespian who loves and lives in Houma.