On any given night, one can expect something completely different to be put on at Urban Lounge. Tonight’s festivities could only be described as a sort post-punk, new wave dance party, put on with a certain bit of French flair, courtesy of La Femme, whose male members could be seen hanging around the venue in motorcycle jackets with their emblem painted on the back. Upon arriving at the venue I had been warmly greeted by Nunez Hijo (La Femme), seemingly bursting with excitement to meet the locals (as well as taste local Utah beer). Deciding that a drink is in good order, we make our way inside and grab a table, drink in hand. As we chat, I observe JAWWZZ!! as they blow up their balloons for their gig. Chaz Costello has wrapped his microphone with flowers, signaling that something wild is about to take place.
Witnessing JAWWZZ!! play is like surviving a brutal garage rock assault. They describe themselves as a sort of glittery garage goth band and it’s easy to see why. JAWWZZ!! combine the best Joy Division and The Cure into a raw and haunting sound. Always upbeat, they blast energy filled tunes into their loyal and attentive audience. Costello’s intense stage presence also factors in as he throws himself into every number with the audience eagerly wanting more. Though their conclusion comes too quickly, they leave the stage with a buzz of energy in their wake, as well as loads of balloons, which audience members take to popping as Koala Temple sets up their gear.
As Koala Temple position themselves on stage, they exchange playful banter with the audience, perhaps gaging them or provoking their attention. As the main lights dim, blue lights turn on as Koala Temple launches into their set, opening with a number that brings on nostalgia of the vocal style of Elvis Costello while blasting out a very Cramps-like sound. Other tunes they knock out have a dark and melodic feel, sounding like a mix of Killing Joke meets Nikki Sudden. Members of La Femme watch with keen interest and even start dancing along with other members of the attentive audience.
Unfortunately these energetic blasts come out in short bursts, as Koala Temple’s transition into each number does not come across smoothly. These transitions create a kind of whiplash effect, letting the energy get low, needing a strong revival to follow suit. Their psych numbers also come across as a bit drawn out. Though the beat is steady, it is mellow with a weak build-up. Despite this, the audience offers a mass applause to the conclusion of their set.
As La Femme took to the stage, I worried that they might be a bit tired from their long drive from Denver. Their presence seemed relaxed and did not appear overly buzzing with energy. However, appearances can be deceiving, for it was not fatigue I was observing, rather, it was a charismatically cool confidence. Building up into their first number, they launched in “Amour Dans Le Motu,” a soothing, yet dark and haunting number. Blasting out “Nous Etions Deux” to packed house, they seemed to put everyone into a trance, the heavy beat invoking everyone on the dance floor to sway from side to side and bounce around. Even my foot can’t stop tapping to this infectious beat.
Continuing through, they cast their dark, synth-filled melodic spells into the writhing audience. This causes non-stop dancing on the dance floor, as everyone is caught by the ensnaring beat. La Femme knocks out numbers like the psych-spaghetti western feeling “Sur La Planche” with certain suave. Others, like “Antitaxi,” blast out into a throbbing mass with high, electrifying energy. Transitioning through their set list, they build on the already existing energy, adding to the electric feel, and never wavering. Despite the noticeably lengthy set, I always want more.
Through their triumphant return for the customary encore, they blast out fast and edgy synth-filled tunes. This encourages a furious revitalization that electrifies the audience back into their excitable trance-like state. Upon La Femme’s conclusion, they leave a pulsating buzz in the air. “Where did that show come from? Came out of nowhere,” says concertgoer Tim Simpson. Waking up from the infectious spell, the audience slowly disperses, with a sizable contingent remaining for the after party.
Hits like “Louie Louie” and “Wooly Bully” carried on the wave left in the wake of La Femme’s set, much to the delight of the band, as Hijo and others hit the dance floor, swinging to the rock n’ roll being DJ-ed by Matty Mo. Needing little excuse since my knee was still bouncing, I jumped onto the dance floor, I joined in with the gyrating mass. I was still under a spell, but an older one.