(L-R) Chris Lennox-Aasen, Ricky Castanedo, Keenan Federico, Rob Hoover of Anchoress. Photo Courtesy Tijuana Gift Shop
I knew going into things that this night was going to be the perfect storm. First off, I love Burt's Tiki Lounge. In my particular opinion, there's nothing better than a punk show in a dive bar, and Burt's is the epitome of the dive bar. Give me a cheap beer and cover the walls in posters and I'm home. Easily doubling the good vibes, tonight Anchoress was headlining, having made their way from Vancouver, BC blowing up venue after venue on their way to burn down SLC on their first US tour. I'm not sure how to talk about Anchoress without sounding like a fanboy, so I'm just going to go for it and hope you forgive me––they're good, they're really freaking good, and I absolutely believe that this band is destined for an amazing future. I haven't stopped listening to Set Sail since I reviewed it for the upcoming June issue of SLUG, and I hope every person reading this checks it out ASAP. It's good. It's really freaking good. I'll wait here while you go buy it.
The first set of the night was The Two-Bit Band, a local punk rock trio dressed for the part and ready to warm up the crowd. Despite a couple technical difficulties and a few missed riffs, it was a solidly entertaining set. I'd like to see them when they play a little smoother, but there's not really a whole hell of a lot you can do when your gear just isn't cooperating. Highlights include a bit of amusing dissent over bassist Al Catraz's place of origin (LA by way of Columbia, I learned chatting with him after the show––a well traveled rocker, indeed), as well as drummer Dick the Kid air-drinking a beer from a stage hop-on in the middle of pounding out another song. The crowd loved them, proving once again that all is forgiven as long as you jump back in and keep the speakers pumping.
Next up was Simian Greed, a band with a fascinating name and an even more fascinating stage presence. Also featured in SLUG's January edition of Localized, this was my first time seeing them and I walked out of that venue impressed. I love their sound, particularly Dave Sanchez's unique vocal delivery, a mix of spoken word and hardcore screaming that he makes look absolutely effortless with a quiet, mostly still stage presence. Difficult to describe, although more hardcore than punk, it's not a sound that fits neatly into any particular genre, but it's captivating all the same. I'll be seeing these guys again, although I don't expect that I'll be able to describe them any better next time.
The last of the openers was a band that I've been hearing quite a bit about recently, the Salt Lake Spitfires. A little bit rockabilly, a little bit punk, and all rock and roll, these guys (and gal) had the crowd bouncing around from note one. Drunk as hell and twice as charismatic, singer David Dalby kicked serious ass as this band delivered another solid set. Unfortunately, this was also their last show with drummer Joe Bondra who is sadly moving on, but I have plenty of faith that they'll find someone to take up the sticks again and keep rocking. There's a reason they've been making waves, and I've got a feeling there's always going to be a place for good old-fashioned rock and roll. Needless to say, the crowd loved them and kept the good vibes rolling.
It really doesn't seem like a yell like that should be coming out of a singer as admittedly wiry as the incredibly talented Rob Hoover, but I dare you to try to make him slow down. Opening with “All Sweaty Dudes Stay True,” Anchoress started with a roar, diving into song after song and bouncing around hard enough that I'm surprised nobody passed out by the end of the night. Every member of the band is more energetic than anything I've ever seen, just an incredible whirlwind of hardcore fury from drummer Chris Lennox-Aasen to guitarist Keenan Federico and back to bassist Ricky Castanedo. The closest I've ever seen is the also-phenomenal La Dispute, but even they can't top Anchoress on that tiny bar stage. I mentioned their cover of Andrew WK's “Party Hard” in my album review, and although that cover didn't make the set, see them firsthand and you'll see why it's a fair example. This four-piece of sonic perfection parties hard and it is glorious.
Taking advantage of a rare break between songs, Salt Lake City's finest stepped up their game and proved how a grateful crowd treats such an impressive performance. One round of Cerebral Assassin shots later, and hospitality was delivered––you wonderful drunken bastards, don't ever change. Fittingly booze-worthy, Anchoress then delivered a short peek into Canadian affairs in the form of a song about current Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his apparent similarity to our own former President Bush. On behalf of all of post-Bush America, I'd like to extend our sympathies to the Canadian people. Come back for more shots soon, we'll make it better.
Similarly to the 22-minute long album that never seems to get old, one full set wasn't enough. Another round of Cerebral Assassins as tribute, though, and we managed to convince them to play us one more song. Closing out with the Shawshank-inspired “Brooks Was Here,” everyone took the opportunity to make it count. “Get busy living or get busy dying,” roars Rob, and I think I know which one the slam-dancing punks are going to pick. There's something about their energy, watching how much fun these guys have playing their music––it's infectious. I dare you to be able to stop with just one show. For my part, I'm already waiting to line up for the next tour. The guys in Anchoress made it extremely clear how much they appreciated the crowd, and they promised to make it back as soon as they can. Thanks to everyone that showed up for helping make such a good impression on these fine gentlemen! A fun local-filled bill capped off with some of the finest Canadian post-hardcore badassery––now that's a Friday night.