Saturday Night @ Rubber Gloves
Let's be honest with ourselves for a moment, shall we? More often than we'd like, local rock concerts are fairly drab affairs. Sure, seeing a solid local line up in a comfortable venue with a bunch of friends (who might include the bands themselves) can be great fun, but local shows often lack some of the excitement, anticipation, and unexpected pleasures that can transform a run of the mill concert experience into something great. It isn't anyone's fault most of the time, but the concept of diminishing returns tends to seep into the equation once you've seen some of your favorite local bands X amount of times. It usually isn't you and it usually isn't the bands, its just the way things work. After a while, you know what to expect from the bands you catch on a regular basis, and although you'll continue to enjoy their performances, the chances that you'll see or hear something new seem to grow smaller and smaller with each passing experience.
But as anyone who attended Saturday's show at Rubber Gloves can probably attest, the aforementioned state of affairs isn't always the rule. In fact, you didn't even have to be a fan of any of the bands performing on Saturday to pick up on the relatively high level of excitement and energy that was swirling around the venue even before the first act took the stage. Sure, it was clear that many of the people in attendance knew many of the other people in attendance, but scene schmoozing and the consumption of intoxicating substances weren't the only things fueling the fire. Much like a handful of other big shows we've seen in Denton in recent months, the potential for getting carried away was measurably present on Saturday, and it was the bands, not the beers, that were responsible for it.
A sizable portion of the early excitement probably had something to do with the debut performance of Denton's Ghosthustler, a band that has already received a good deal of national blog coverage (thanks largely to Gorilla vs. Bear), college radio play, and casual interest from a noteworthy record label, all on the strength of two Myspace demos and a total of zero shows. This kind of premature attention can often lead to disproportionate tongue in cheek comparisons to ghosts of hype hustlers past, but lets just go ahead and squash all that shit before it starts: lead singer Alan Palomo's microphone basically didn't work throughout the entire set, but it was still quite clear that Ghosthuster is getting ready to start kicking everyone's ass all over town. We don't want to dig too deep into their sound since we're preparing a longer piece on them for later this week, but the combination of Palomo's commanding stage presence along with the alarming precision and glitchy hard hitting dance floor funk of the music was quite exhilarating, particularly for a debut, and the fact that more than half the audience already seemed to know their two songs made the absence of vocals less of a problem than one might imagine. Anyone in attendance that doubted whether Ghosthustler would be able to "pull it off" in a live setting is probably already planning to take a second look, as the band didn't seem at all like one that was playing live for the first time.
Eat Avery's Bones experienced some sound problems throughout their set as well, but again, their hyperactive and devoted fans could have cared less. Its a bit difficult to say much about this band that hasn't already been alluded to on this blog, but I have serious doubts that anyone could watch one of EAB's 15 minute sets and not at least laugh and enjoy themselves enough to consider the experience well worth it. Running through several of their short songs with the comic intensity of a cartoon character on meth, Eat Avery's Bones wowed the room with sheer joy and intensity, and if the speed of light proggy breakdowns or the ferocious pacing of the drums didn't get you, the microphone wizard certainly did (really, all the guy did was stand there holding a mic and he was still hilarious). The band's creativity is infectious in a live setting, and the silliness surrounding much of what they do doesn't end up hiding the fact that they've got the raw talent to do whatever the hell they want. Similar to bands like Japanther, The Mae Shi or even Lightning Bolt, Eat Avery's Bones is able to utilize humor and a sort of 8-bit Hypercolor aesthetic to make the aggressiveness of their music that much more interesting and rewarding.
Austin's Cry Blood Apache was apparently two men short of a full band on Saturday, but that didn't stop them from putting on a fantastic show, albeit a much darker and spacier one than the bands they shared the stage with. Its kind of funny that people in the comment threads were comparing CBA to Suicide and early industrial today, because my first reaction to their set was "sounds like Suicide," and my second reaction was "sounds like Suicide mixed with late 80's Ministry." I guess Nitzer Ebb would be a fair comparison too (as they hint at on their Myspace page), but last time I checked, sounding like any of those bands was far from a bad thing. And I don't mean to suggest that the band is overly derivative either. For one thing, to even remind someone of Suicide in the first place is a commendable accomplishment, and CBA was able to turn it up quite a bit by deconstructing some of Suicide's creepier moments and allowing the chaos of noise and industrial clatter to drill through Rubber Gloves like a psychedelic jackhammer, pounding rhythms and disturbing atmospherics into everyone's heads.
And of course, the Undoing of David Wright, back in action after a hiatus of several months, was jaw droppingly loud and ferocious. The last time I saw one of their shows was several months ago at Darkside Lounge, where the band appeared to be struggling with sound problems, difficult new material and a general lack of focus. On Saturday, despite a few more sound issues, Undoing put on the most aggressive performance I've ever seen from them. A sensory overload of flashing lights, nervous tempo changes and harsh beats yet again served as a forum for Shane English and A Train to display their typically tight playing, but what was really striking was how difficult much of the new material was. The set, although very rhythmic, was noticeably less dance oriented than the typical Undoing set you might have seen over a year ago. The thing is, everyone up front was still dancing. There wasn't a four on the floor beat to be found for more than what seemed like ten seconds, but the crowd was still moving like they always have at Undoing shows. The band appears to be in the process of regrouping and evolving, and if Saturday's show was any indication, they might be headed to some strange but exciting places with both music and visual performance.
Of course, theres no telling what Undoing or any of these other bands might do next. The show was attended by people who had obviously seen the entire line up before, but the excitement in the air made it clear that people were prepared to experience just about anything that night. That mystery is part of what makes all of these bands so good, and it played a big role in making Saturday's performance the best local show I've seen this year.