On Monday, July 7, One Eyed Jack’s hosted a screening of The Gits, a rock doc about the Seattle punk-rock band of the same name whose rise was truncated by the murder and rape of their influential singer, Mia Zapata. The final cut (just released on DVD) chronicles the band’s trajectory, Zapata’s unsettling death, its resonant impact on the music community and the justice that would finally come more than a decade later with the conviction of a Florida man. One of a dozen screenings nationwide to occur on the 15th anniversary of her death, the event drew a respectable – and respectful – turnout. More than anything, seeing roughly 50 people commemorate the fallen singer of an underground band after this many years was heartening.
Outside, things were a little less serious. OK, a lot less serious. The annual Photo Royale (a scenester team competition based at the Matador that’s basically Halloween, a photographic scavenger hunt and a drinking competition all rolled into one) was going on, which meant people were running around dressed like Indians, unicorns and Robert Palmer video babes, the funniest being the FLDS clan.
But despite all the visual slapstick blurring around me at Bar-BQ-Bar’s “Monday Meltdown,” the biggest LOL sight was the DJ. It wasn’t because of the very bad metal he was occasionally playing; it was his rig. DJs increasingly use laptops for their gigs to avoid the inconvenience of lugging around heavy records and CDs. But this cat, missing a link in that chain of logic, comes in and sets up a FUCKING DESKTOP. Now that rules! Apparently, the comedy of his situation isn’t lost on him, since he and his PC spin under the totally sweet moniker DJ Dethtop & the Tower of Doom. It simply does not get any more awesome than that. Dig your neo-Luddite ways, dude.
July 10 saw Journey tribute band Frontiers rock the Social. Cover bands are a conceptually dicey proposition for a music intellectual. Luckily, I happen to straddle the border between academic and caveman party-rocker, so I say if you’re gonna do a tribute band, go all the way. And Journey is the ultimate populist band. The players were somewhat pallid but who cares, so long as the voice is there? And Jeremey Hunsicker’s singing is a spot-on facsimile of Steve Perry’s soaring croon. It’s so Memorex that he was actually offered the singing job for the real Journey (he declined for family reasons). Aside from the big gawk factor of hearing Hunsicker, though, the show was a fleeting pleasure.
Much more stirring was the heavyweight psychedelic lineup there the following night featuring the Black Angels and the Warlocks, unquestionably one of this year’s dopest bills. Sticking to the more charged side of their catalog, L.A.’s Warlocks played a reasonably diverse set that showed off their silvery, beautifully wide sound.
As in their musical approach, the Angels’ performance was much more single-minded. Since their deal is ambience, they worked the swirling sonic thickness of their insistent rock dirges like tranced-out shamans. Projected visuals and heavy use of strobe lights jacked up the perceptive contortion of the funereal affair even more. They border on taking themselves a bit too seriously – a common ill of the neo-psychedelic genre – but they delivered a forceful, powerfully atmospheric set.
Besides the draw of my breathtaking DJ wizardry, I’m thankful that the lineup for the latest edition of The Bao Show at Taste on July 12 pulled a crowd of serious music listeners. Performing solo and acoustic, Crutch & the Giant Junshi (aka Nick Sprysenski) tore open his soul to deliver an arresting rendition of his unique, open-wound brand of experimental folk. Tom Waits sounds like a total square next to this guy.
Tampa’s Giddy-Up, Helicopter! swathed the room in sheets of guitars and shoegaze washes. A real area gem, this talented band has an oddly low profile in this city, which needs to change, pronto.
Particularly special was seeing the freshly reconstituted Watch Me Disappear on stage again. In late 2006, right when they were really hitting a honed, focused sound, I literally watched them disappear when they disbanded. Thankfully, the math-minded post-hardcore trio is back in business with chops still intact. Like Helmet for smart people, their set was complicated but thoroughly rocking. Welcome back, firstname.lastname@example.org