This awesome night of music began with a set from local punk rock legends Victims Willing. I didn’t grow up here in the salty city, but I quickly realized during this set that I was seeing some men who are well steeped in the history in the S.L.C. scene. According to their website (vicitimswilling.com) these dudes have been rocking since 81’! Performing a set of well known originals and covers from various classic punk bands, Victims Willing were set to thrill. I especially enjoyed listening after the set as they told stories of the huge punk shows from back in the day at various now defunct venues, that I have only heard of from the Making A Scene dvd. I hope that other Salt Lake transplants and youngsters have the same opportunity I did to see these guys live.
Next up were The Ex-Girlfriend’s Club, from Portland. This band embodies the energy of the city in which they live. Portland is known for being wild and unpredictable, and this band was certainly that. When I saw the drummer, known as Action Lord, wearing an Echo And The Bunny Men tee I knew I was in for a sonic assault, however the assault went much further than being merely sonic, it got physical. These guys come from another time and place. A time when Iggy Pop was in his prime and punk rock was new, raw and free. The band pulled the very best from glam, punk and shoegaze with a style reminiscent of Bauhaus or early Bowie. The music was stripped down and snarled like an angry dog. The singer, Albatross was a flailing, possessed wild man, full of sexual energy like Jim Morrison in his prime. A snapped mic cable was used as a neck tie as he prowled the floor, stage and all of the tables as well as the bar. The small crowd was enraptured. The tones with came from the bands vintage gear were visceral and raw. The bass guitar sounded like a buzz saw cutting through a gravel truck.
The best of the many good moments in the set was a monologue about King Nebuchadnezzar set to a wall of guitar reverb and feedback, which caved in to a a song about a golden headed man. The crowd was drinking heavily that night and if I could have captured the looks on the women’s faces as they came out of the bathroom into the total sonic onslaught I would have no need to write this piece.
This set was a purification process, which by it’s end, left only the most brave in the audience to witness the band throw themselves into the drumset with wreckless abandon. As the guys packed away their gear I wished them the best of luck on tour, but I should have left the well wishing to their equipment, it’s going to need luck just to remain intact.