Thursday, May 29, 2014

Potty Mouth/Perfect Pussy In The West, Pt. I

26 MAY, 2014
Potty Mouth
Perfect Pussy (Meredith Graves)
Northampton, Mass. based quartet Potty Mouth is currently in the middle of their first national tour, and after a weekend appearance at the Sasquatch Festival, found itself winding down the coast. San Francisco's Rickshaw Stop played host, and along for the ride was the inimitable Perfect Pussy, the Syracuse, NY noisemeisters that don't seemed to have stopped touring. This, for them, was a makeup gig of sorts, as they had to cancel a scheduled March appearance, and being billed with Potty Mouth was just icing on the cake. We'll just use this as an introduction, and catch up more in depth after their Los Angeles show later in the week.
Fighting against Memorial Day traffic, I landed in The City and made the venue most of the way through the second act Wild Moth, and was really sorry to miss opener Crabapple. Heralded by the strains of Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra", known these days primarily as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Perfect Pussy was a controlled detonation, a combination of chaotic skronk and shifting textures of noise, overseen by lead vocalist Meredith Graves, in a stunning cross between testifying and exorcism. Not since the salad days of At The Drive-In have I seen a band operate at this energy level. Interestingly, given Graves' intense stage persona, (shades of Robert Mitchum in Night Of The Hunter), the singer offstage was upbeat and enthusiastic when meeting her fans, and if there's one judgemental thumbnail to be applied: It's always a good sign when one can't find a phone in her bag because it's buried under books.
Opening acts can be a tightrope, and it's a major credit to Potty Mouth that, especially at this young stage of their career, they could hit the stage after such a band, and claim the crowd as their own. From the heart of the Pioneer Valley in Western Mass., guitarists Abby and Ali, and the rhythm section of Ally and Victoria on bass and drums, respectively, are touring off of their debut LP, Hell Bent, which followed a 2012 EP, Sun Damage. Hearing the songs from both take off live was a real treat, and their unstinting energy and self-deprecating stage manner made for a winning combination. Early in the set, they knocked out "Dog Song", the tune that first brought them to my attention, and my night was made from there on out. Their gift for a punky hook serves them well, and the growth between the EP and album is appreciable, and it will be fascinating to see where they go from here. Stay tuned for part two, from Los Angeles...



Sunday, May 25, 2014

Deserted At The Palms: Sights and Sounds

17 MAY, 2014
Cate Le Bon
Leaving behind the 108 degree temperature on the desert floor, the climb in elevation took a certain edge off so that it was barely triple digits upon reaching Joshua Tree. The Palms Restaurant sits in the epically named Wonder Valley, and if your taste runs, (as does mine), to desert scapes, then it might not be misnamed after all. "Deserted At The Palms" brought together an eclectic lineup of acts for an exploratory foray into the one day mini fest, and like any first effort, had some strategic opportunities that could be addressed, but on the music end, it was nothing short of a rousing success;introducing exciting new acts, and reconfirming compelling artists, all in a venue that provided enough room to move, and coordinate between an indoor and outdoor stage. Cate Le Bon and her band turned in a scintillating set, expanding on their recent Amoeba Music appearance, Alex Lilly and Hott MT provided energy in the heat, Nite Jewel was a captivating presence at sunset, and the day's big takeaway was a bouncy punk band from LA, Sex Stains. It will be interesting to see if Deserted At The Palms becomes an annual gathering or a one shot gig, but it was certainly worth the trip.