Brain Bagz launch into an impressive array of swampy garage rock n’ roll mixed with a Western feel and sharp, echoing, disembodied vocals—Blackhurst’s signature vocal style. Brain Bagz comprise notable veterans of Salt Lake’s music scene and they blast a sound similar to, yet noticeably heaver than, that of the departed Swamp Ravens, who could draw on a devoted attendance of their own on any given night. After a loud cry of “Brain Bagz!” the band continues to tear through the set. It is only after their conclusion that there is some time to let the buzzing in my ears subside.
As the night goes on, I’m constantly surprised by the less-than-full-house turnout to the gig, especially with such a stellar lineup. However, those here clearly know what’s up, and I’m sure they would agree the acts performing are well worth the threat of tinnitus. I mean, holy shit, Nots are playing—this band kicks ass. Think along the lines of Ex-Cult, but more Black Flag raw, and with that distinct hardcore, Memphis, spacey punk style. So, for me, catching them is totally the highlight for my night. Their setup doesn’t take long, and when they blast into their set, I am completely blown away. Theirs is a passionate and furious assault that is unbridled and absolutely awesome. It is all I can do to keep pen in hand and calmly take notes.
Nots blast through numbers like “Insect Eyes” (off of the debut LP) and “Virgin Mary” (off of the new single). Their stunning performance captivates the assembled audience, who, in turn, clearly show their appreciation to Nots. Midway through their set, there are some clear signs of movement on the dance floor. The lights begin to flicker, and though I initially fear another blackout, the flickering lights add a flashy display for the set—it helps cultivate a certain mood that is hauntingly aggressive. Unfortunately for me, Nots’ set is too short for my taste, so I’ll have to make do.
Nots combine the rawness of Black Flag with the relentless sonic assault of Ex-Cults. Photo: Geoffrey Brent Shrewsbury
While Quintron and Miss Pussycat set up, I head outside for some air. There seem to be more people who have crawled out of the woodwork to see the headliners. Back inside, I grab a table in time to watch Quintron and Miss Pussycat’s intro—a puppet show. I’ll admit, I am bit perplexed by this puppet show for adults. It’s weirdly attractive and bizarre, kind of catching me offguard. The audience watches with fascination and amusement. After 10 minutes or so of the little theater, the dance party that I’ve been warned about kicks off.
Quintron and Miss Pussycat have the most impressive and ingenious display that I’ve seen at a gig— except maybe the Adicts. It consists of doodads and whirling lights for a genre-defying performance. Their style is eerie, organ heavy and radically up-tempo. They go through numbers like “Waterfall” and “Shoplifter,” the latter of which seems to send an invisible pulsating shockwave through the audience, who in turn break out into spasms of shaking and gyrations that don’t let up, as Quintron and Miss Pussycat’s sound appears to have a possessing quality to it. I would be moving too, but I feel like I’m being blown back into my seat and simply watch on in awe.The end of their set inspires a ringing of applause, and the audience takes their leave toward the bar or out back for their smokes. The general feeling among the smokers seems to be that of satisfaction, and it’s easy to understand why. Tonight’s acts delivered and then some. While I’m sure they’d be hard to top, the summer is only beginning. If this is where the bar is set, then I’m optimistic—so bring it on.