Monday, October 3, 2011

The Tim Version/Your Pest Band/Holy Shit!/Nothing in the Dark/Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children Macnuggits
Saturday, 24th September 2011
Fubar, St. Petersburg, FL

I am sat on a damaged stool, glancing around the bar at familiar characters from home.  A moments thought reveals them not to be those same people, and another moment made up of silly disappointment follows.  A track by a soulful, melancholic woman plays in the background to help capture the instant.  Then some crappy pop comes on and really ruins it.

I think at this time that I've missed the band Nothing in the Dark (who I was particularly excited about seeing), because Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children Macnuggits have just started performing and I was under the impression they were going on second.  This turns out not to be true, but for the moment I'm bummed, and the youtube humour of BJECM isn't helping.  'Youtube humour' is a reference to the lower standards we place on comedy when it's in an internet video, and the same is true of much 'comedic' music.  It's not personal - Tenacious D don't do anything for me either - and maybe the specifics of the songs are cleverer than you might initially think.  But themes of zombies and beer need more going for them than quirk factor, in my opinion.  On the plus side, they do cover Billy Bragg, and venture into posi/political territory with the chorus "life is excellent (the tap water tastes like excrement)."  

Gripping my Nothing in the Dark free demo, I move to the front of the venue.  I see a snare drum onstage with a picture of a topless, sexualised, black woman on it, and continue to be grumpy, thinking about what a stupid white boys club punk can continue to be.  I don't know which band owns the drum, but the guys setting up have a guitarist in a cast, which is uh, progressive!  Or cool anyway.  It is revealed that this is in fact NITD, giving me the burst of punk I most heavily needed, and wearing surprisingly bright blue and yellow shirts for a band so-named (and the cast is orange!)  The vocal style is similar to Leftover Crack, but the music is more consistently good, bearing a pinch of pre-shitty Against Me!.  Their (excellent) song 'Drink Hard With a Vengeance" sounds a lot like something else that I can't place.  Though I suspect its obvious and I'll feel stupid later.  They have a few great solos and are one of the best acts I've heard in a while.  

Holy Shit! are a band with a name that can be applied numerous ways, which is relatively genius.  It pulls the rug out from under any would-be critics.  "Harhar, you think we're holy shit? Yes, very witty."  They take a while to get started, informing us that the Japanese name for Jigglypuff is Pudding, and playfully mocking.  To be honest, I don't think Americans are in any position to question what the Japanese call a computerised marshmallow with a face, given some of the names of real, human children in this country.  Talk about holy shit moments.  Anyway, once they get going it's clear they play a lovely shitstorm (no pun intended) of noise/power/arse/whatever and very enjoyable it is too.  It's the kind of music that could sound like a chaotic mess, but an element in there is holding it together in an unconventional way.  They do suffer from a bit of 'When do I clap?' syndrome due to the storm's structure, so hopefully they understand they are not unloved.  

In quick and exciting succession come Your Pest Band from Tokyo.  They also have a touch of 'When do I clap?' syndrome but are more melodic than Holy Shit!.  Their driving punk rock is anything but pest-like and and as they have invited us all to be honourary members of their band, I welcome them to come play near me at anytime.  They "love PBR" and yet they "hate PBR" (like all those with sense).  They love NOFX enough to cover them but hate wearing t-shirts.  Really brilliant.  Considering how far they have traveled it's a shame they don't perform for longer.  Check out and the connected videos on the right-hand side. (Edit: and see for this particular performance!)

The short set of YPB is made just a tad more disheartening by the long wait for The Tim Version.  The energy in the room starts to dissipate, but there's promise at the sight of a band member wearing a Leatherface shirt, and, elsewhere, a Public Enemy sticker on a guitar.  The raspy, mush-y vocals here are inspired by some strand of punk, but I can't for the life of me think which, not even when listening to their song 'Leatherface.'  All I know is that the beard at this point seems to have become an instrument in its own right, filtering regular vocal chords into pools of warm and comforting awesomeness.  A beautiful dog, with a full-body beard, is being walked around the venue, and it agrees and approves.  At times, the slow epics aren't quite making the grade for 1am.  However, a crowd-enforced encore of their opening number makes me think a differently-timed version of The Tim Version would make the jump from good to great.