The Bangups
Gig Seeker Pro

The Bangups

Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Duo Rock




"Harriet Kaplan"

The Bangups
Hotel Cafe

The Bangups wear their punk rock hero credentials well. The group's brand of bratty, loud yet tuneful rock and roll also has a fuzz tone indie garage style stamp on it. The Bangups are also seasoned veterans that sweat with talent, ambition and purpose aiming for commercial success on their own terms.

Performing an hour-long set at Hotel Cafe recently, the show was comprised of material from their first CD, Ten Dollars An Hour, and the newest offering, Hellcat! The Bangups showcased 13 songs. Youthful lust was one theme explored on the instantly catchy and memorable "Sunburnt Love" and another song performed was about dealing with life's harsh realities from their first CD that shares the same title. A nod was also given to The Ramones. The Bangups delivered respectful, straightforward treatments "Judy is a Punk" and "Cretin Hop." If this show was any indication, The Bangups are poised and ready to make that leap to playing stadiums and arenas leaving the club circuit scene behind them in the dust.

The Grand Rapids, Michigan powerhouse duo of Joey Dornbos and Brent French performed every song with a single-minded urgency, intensity and drive. Going for broke was no exaggeration and the band demonstrated a steely determination that was hard to ignore. Those same traits, however, can be taken to the extreme and work against them because that approach doesn't leave much room for subtlety or nuance. Shifting the tone, dynamics and pacing would go a long way toward differentiating one song from another.

The Bangups have many great attributes as musicians and performers. Joey Dornbos is a very engaging and personable frontman. Dornbos reached out to connect with the audience. A crowd gathered near the stage and a few people were dancing in unison to the beat of the songs. The lanky Dornbos is a fun ringleader. He jive talked his way between songs getting the crowd excited creating anticipation for the next number and building momentum throughout the set. Dornbos was in constant motion, swinging his guitar around, alternating between dancing and pogoing on stage. He is a skilled and formidable guitarist that can change up rock and blues chords with seamless ease. His approach felt fresh and original. The passion was evident. Brent French on backing vocals and drums provided a solid bottom and rhythm foundation that tied the thunderous combination together.
- Harriet Kaplan - Punch Records Blog

"The Bangups Two Man Rock 'n Roll Assault"

The Bangups have taken some cues from stand-up comedians.
They’re not aiming to crack up audiences, but as a lean, two-man rock band, it’s taught them a lot about the way a solo performer can hold fans’ attention and mesmerize a giant crowd.

“The fact that a single dude can be on stage or a single chick and can … captivate an arena,” says guitarist and singer Joey Dornbos. “It shows there are avenues to take to tap into that energy to keep people excited.”

Dornbos and longtime musical ally and drummer Brent French certainly have discovered the secret to pumping up throngs with just two instruments and heaping helpings of verve, aggression and exuberance – eschewing the traditional rock approach that usually involves bassists, rhythm guitarists and keyboard players.

Official Sponsor of the Local Spins Live Artist Spotlight
“We don’t really fit in at all,” Dornbos concedes when assessing the Grand Rapids band’s recent stint on the high-profile Vans Warped Tour, the second year in a row the duo has been invited to join four dozen other national acts on the U.S. tour.

“On a personal level, we fit in, and we love those people and they love us, but musically, we don’t really fit in at all. It (Warped Tour) has gotten more eclectic, but I think we were the only two-piece rock ’n’ roll band on the tour that I saw.”
The Bangups, "Hellcat!"
The Bangups, “Hellcat!”

And as they put it, they have the “element of surprise” because many audiences don’t know what to expect when they take the stage so that gets attention from the first note they play.
Boasting garage-rock muscle and infectious hooks, the Grand Rapids duo certainly stands out in many ways, last month unleashing an edgy sophomore studio album, “Hellcat!,” which was recorded at Grand Rapids’ Stone House Recording with Peter Fox. The band also released a brilliantly entertaining video for the album’s lead single, “Ego Wrecking Ball,” filmed by Gorilla Pictures at Mulligan’s Pub in Eastown and a Southwest Side warehouse.

Both could find a big audience, with The Bangups probing options for getting the album picked up by a national label and the video getting lined up “on the shelves” at MTV and Fuse. Read more about the video and watch it online here.

On Wednesday, the boys dropped into the studios of News Talk 1340 AM (WJRW) for my Local Spins Live segment to play an exclusive acoustic version of “Grindstone” from the new album and chat with Dave Jaconette and myself about their upcoming West Michigan CD-release show which takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday at The Pyramid Scheme. (Listen to a podcast of the show here and watch a video of that performance below.)

For Dornbos and French, it’s the latest musical adventure for a couple of pals who grew up in tiny communities north of Grand Rapids: Pierson and Howard City. The younger French first encountered Dornbos when he formed a high school band with French’s older brother.

“I just thought they were the coolest guys on earth and they were older, so I thought it was super rad. I started playing on ice cream buckets with them in my mom’ s basement,” French recalls, noting he later filled in as a drummer in Dornbos’ band. “From there, we just started forming bands together. Really over the years, it’s been a refining process. We’ve been in four-piece bands and three-piece bands. Joey and I have just been kind of the main two that have stuck it out.”

The Bangups on Local Spins Live (Photo/Anna Sink)
The Bangups on Local Spins Live (Photo/Anna Sink)

From Dornbos’ perspective, solidifying the two-piece approach is just a throwback to the classic Delta blues that has long influenced the band. “Early Delta blues, if you listen to those guys, is just a single guitar and one guy singing and it does everything you need a song to do. And that’s just one guy and we’ve got two.”

He also sees The Bangups as part of the continuum of the past half-century of American music, or in other words, “just wanting to be part of a stream of music, from Delta blues and then you’ve got old country and how those two styles morphed into rock ‘n’ roll and rock ‘n’ roll sort of moved on into punk rock. There’s definitely a stream of music, of artists that we feel connected to.”

On Saturday at The Pyramid Scheme, The Bangups will dive into that stream by playing all of the songs from their 2009 debut album as well as every track on “Hellcat!” Also on the bill that night are the Holy White Hounds and The Brave Youth; tickets are $7 in advance or $10 the day of the show. Get tickets online here.
The new album also is available for purchase online through and iTunes, as well as through Check out the band’s Facebook page here.
- See more at: - John Sinkevics

"The Bangups at Ah-Nab-Awen Park - opening for Dead Sara"

As the park filled with exhausted runners and zombies alike, they came back to life with the assistance of the sweet sounds of pure rock energy booming from the stage. Never doubt the power of raw rock and roll. If you find yourself straying from the path of rock and roll righteousness, The Bang Ups are here to set you straight.

Even during a near freezing night on an outdoor stage, this two-piece lit a fire underneath every person in the crowd. They were able to keep the crowd warm by providing good, toe-tappin’ rock music for all ages. I witnessed everyone in the crowd, from disheveled teenagers to grandparents taking their grandkids out for the night, all moving in some way. Be it tapping your foot, bobbing your head, or straight out dancing, you can’t help but feel the energy The Bang Ups provide in their live show. Every song performed, from original content to a cover of “Burning Love” by Elvis Presley, was filled with the same amount of energy one would expect from larger bands. They were able to maintain the same amount of crowd interaction that is found in bar shows, but on a much larger stage.

A band should always have the same amount of fun as the crowd. With every ripping guitar chord and every thunderous drum beat, these two could not keep the smiles off their faces. Guitar solos were accompanied by furious flourishes and controlled convulsions. Crashing cymbal rides were followed with snappy snare hits and booming bass kicks.

Even on a bill with strong female acts like Fine Fine Titans and Dead Sara, these two guys were able to stand out on their own. The harmony that existed on that shared stage made me hopeful for the changes that are coming in the music scene. No longer is Rock and Roll “a man’s game”, but rather it is becoming a place that both sexes can coexist and convey their messages simultaneously and effectively.

The Bang Ups provide raw rock and roll power that is, in their own words, “faster than your average 2-piece”.
- Listen to the Mitten


Podcast - The Drop


Still working on that hot first release.



The Bangups is an American rock band from Grand Rapids, MI. It's members include Joey Dornbos (vocals, guitar) and Brent French (background vocals, drums). They have released two albums, "Ten Dollars an Hour" and their sophomore release "HELLCAT!" that was mastered by Emily Lazar (Vampire Weekend, The Shins, The Postal Service) at the Lodge Mastering in New York City. The Bangups music is infused with classic undertones of the 50s and 60s. The band is electrifying, yet rare original. Their music has been licensed on various television shows including Bates Motel, Discovery Channel and have toured nationally on the Vans Warped Tour 2012 & 2013.  Check out their music video "Ego Wrecking Ball" that was featured on

Band Members