You don’t need to know who Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers are to have a good time at a Rory Danger and the Danger Dangers show. You don’t even need to know the group’s front woman Aurora Nealand, a multi-talented singer and musician and rising star in the New Orleans music community. What you do need to know is that crowd participation is almost mandatory at Danger Danger shows, which are regrettably infrequent. A supergroup of sorts—besides the ubiquitous Nealand, members include Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes‘ singer Marc Paradis and drummer Andre Bohren; Andre’s father, singer/guitarist Spencer Bohren; keyboardist Bill Malchow; Debauche bassist Scott Potts; multi-instrumentalist Casey McAllister (from King James & Special Men, Kristin Diable, and more), and guitarist Casey Coleman (also known for his music videos)—the band is often busy with individual touring schedules and other outside commitments. However, once in a while, when there’s a special occasion—in this case a summer breakup—that brings everyone back together, you can count on an energetic and spirited rock ‘n’ roll review that often feels as much like a theatrical performance as it does a music concert.
Led by Nealand—or rather her snarling, glasses-donning alter ego Rory Danger—the band’s main agenda when they reunite is for everyone to have a good time. Their enthusiasm for playing together is contagious, and they have developed a devoted following of friends and fans that turn out whenever they decide to play a show. The sets are structured around running story lines that include elaborate sermonizing and props, a funny play on the popular “rock ‘n’ roll singer-as-preacher” trope. For a previous set at the Blue Nile, they concocted a sprawling fable of travel and adventure involving a map, issues of National Geographic and a band member who returned from their “world tour” with only one arm.
At their show on Tuesday night show at the All-Ways Lounge, memories of love and heartbreak were summoned as the band called upon audience members to think of their former lovers. “You are a beast,” Rory preached to the crowd. “And you know what beasts have? Big hearts.” At one point, sheets of red paper and pens were distributed with instructions to write a “Dear John” letter to a past love—notes that were later read aloud onstage by members of the band.
For all the drama and flair, it’s the tongue-in-cheek nature of the performance as well as the music selection that make Danger Danger shows so much fun. Playing from a catalogue of ’50s rockabilly, classic rock ‘n’ roll and folk Tuesday night, the eight-member band transitioned from boisterous covers of the Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen A Face” into more somber material, including Nancy Sinatra’s version of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” and an unseasonable yet appropriate “Blue Christmas”.
As different members took turns singing the lead, each one lent a particular style or sound that fit in with the narrative-driven structure of the set. The songs were at their best when they directly engaged with the audience. One of the show’s highlights was a revved-up version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” with the crowd chanting the “Home!” part of the chorus in unison. While Tuesday’s show may have been about the power of lost love, the real heartbreak is that once you give your heart to the Dangers, you’re only going to wish that you could see them more often.