In Waste Of Paint, our writer/artist team of Jamie Peck and Debbie Allen will review goings-on about town in words and images.
Ain’t it grand when some sensory input makes you feel like you’re on Mars, even though you’re totally sober? We devoted this weekend to the weirder side of the New York music scene, discovering two bands just feeling their way in the world, and re-discovering another that’s ridden its twisted take on New Orleans blues to relative indie stardom.
Friday we stopped by Big Snow Buffalo Lodge, a young venue that often features full bills of little-known bands, the diligent Googling of which can yield exciting discoveries. A homophone for a hopefully mythical sex act (look it up, or maybe don’t), the five-person group Guerilla Toss has all the makings of experimental greatness: irregular time signatures, an off-putting name, and a singer utterly devoid of self-consciousness. After a few seconds of stumbling around mumbling gibberish as if in a trance, frontwoman Kassie Carlson took a deep breath and let fly a syncopated barrage of screams as ear-piercing as they were exciting to the moshing all-ages crowd, and her male band mates occasionally joined in. As their short, explosive set sped towards the finish line, I thought at turns of Primus, Captain Beefheart, AIDS Wolf, an evil carnival, and Ponytail. But where the late Ponytail dealt in free-flowing, half-improvised compositions, this chaos seemed more or less planned. Their energy was also a good bit thrashier and darker, though certainly not without humor. Exemplary lyric (when lyrics could be understood): “You’re not my dad! You’re not my real dad! You’re not my dad! My dad lives in Tampa!”
Next, the whimsically named Cloud Becomes Your Hand played the homecoming date of their three-week, 17-show tour. Dressed in homemade capes and blue cellophane and flanked by stuffed dinosaurs, they were clearly not afraid to show their love of fantasy role-playing games. In fact, I’d go as far as to say they’re their main inspiration, as their long, meandering set could’ve been the soundtrack to a partially computerized D&D campaign. There was the part where you buy supplies from friendly shopkeepers, the underwater part, the spooky castle part, and the part where everyone takes mushrooms, whispers “seneca” a bunch of times and flies to the moon. In the end, all five dudes crawled down into the middle of the crowd and did a good 15 minutes of slow motion interpretive dance while a twinkling loop played; I’m pretty sure they all became a tree at one point, and then some of them turned into wind-up toys while the others did Tai Chi. Ballsy!
Saturday, we witnessed the triumphant return of NOLA “swamp tech” juggernaut Quintron and Miss Pussycat to Brooklyn (285 Kent to be exact), which can’t seem to get enough of their hallucinatory rock and roll vision. As usual, Miss Pussycat kicked things off with one of her sweetly bizarre puppet shows, which followed a young grizzly bear and her dinosaur friend as they rode around in a sentient spaceship dodging vampires and looking for the happiest planet in the universe. No sooner had the curtain dropped on her felicitous ending than Miss P was lighting numerous candles, setting the stage for a revival-like atmosphere. Topped off by a car grille complete with working headlights and “Quintron” license plate, Q’s homemade instruments sound as cool as they look, and I was once again impressed at the amount of noise he was able to make on his own: organ, cymbals, drums (via the “drum buddy,” a Quintron original which he switched on and off with his feet), and a modified theremin that made me feel like I was on Miss Pussycat’s magical nebula rainbow planet. Un-tethered to anything bigger than a maraca, Miss Pussycat executed multiple stage dives and sang a whole song from down in the crowd, then invited friends to come up and dance and percuss with her.
Broadly speaking, their music has elements of punk, psych and Zydeco (and very occasionally sounds like the B-52s), but the cumulative effect is its own beast. This might explain why so many different types were present in the crowd—punks, indie rockers, crust-ravers, theatrical Burning Man types, and even some bros. And they all fucking committed. It’s a testament to the love people have for this band that the subcultural melting pot of a dance/mosh pit was as intense at the hour-and-a-half mark as it had been at the beginning. It was almost as if there was—as Quintron sang on the set’s fiery closer—”a witch in the club, a witch in the club, a witch in the club.”