Every so often a band reaches you at the perfect time. Maybe you’ve had some relationship issues, family issues, or just regular “I need to get drunk” issues. Whatever your troubles may be, the Cardinal Health is willing to take you away from them for about half an hour and transport you to the greatest place on earth — inebriated sing-along land.
The Cardinal Health’s edgy post-punk sound puts them somewhere between Hot Water Music and an Irish-less Dropkick, with bits of Saves the Day sprinkled on top. In fact, singer-guitarist Nick Garza’s gravelly voice makes him a dead ringer for Dropkick Murphys frontman Al Barr. Bassist Mike Ruiz’s movement is restrained, as if he’s been confined to a cage throughout the performance, and just can’t find enough space for a good thrashing about. Guitarist JP Williams fills in the blank spots with appropriately simple solos.
The band’s second song, “Castaways,” provides the memorable line, “We are the sailors in the lifeboats,” which the crowd at the Ten Eleven had already been anticipating. A lone trumpeter makes his way on stage for small parts on “Home” and a few other songs. Though not integral to the song or performance, the trumpeter’s enjoyable and fun — which might be all you’d think this band is about.
Blazing through their first three songs, this band doesn’t seem to have much of a message behind the short, lyrical narratives. That is, until their sixth song, “Come Here, Go Far” — an absolute must-listen. The story of James and Janice — who practically kill themselves getting through school in order to qualify for jobs that make them want to kill themselves — is instantly relatable, and the chorus hits you right in the chest. “We spent four years on expensive coasters,” screams Garza, “now we rest our drinks on useless diplomas.” This song is the anthem that yuppie junior-management subordinates truly need.
With two songs remaining, the Cardinal Health slams us with everything they have. “Gainesville Grind” has the necessary “Hey, ho” chants that accompany every good drinking song, while their closer, “Lightning,” is all about getting your hips involved, whether you like it or not. Danny Gibbons from Our Sleeping Giant joins the band onstage for the final song, just long enough for the crowd to drench everyone onstage in beer.