This evening’s lineup is promising, and to kick things off, The Nods set the tone for a night of rambunctious rock n’ roll. Out of the openers, the Nods benefit most from their set—they sound great and are on their game, flawlessly knocking out their signature psychedelic-inspired Back From The Grave–like rock n’ roll that meets the aggression of ’70s New York punk sound. It’s a sound that suggests maturity, even though The Nods exude youth that comes from the depths of the garage. The Nods blast through numbers like “Caliphate”—which comes with a semi-political PSA on ISIS courtesy of vocalist Rocky Maldonado—and “Sufferette.” Their audience is smaller than expected, but this is something I’d attribute to playing early in the evening. It is, however, a loyal and interested crowd made up of an odd assortment of patch-and-studs punkers mixed with some hip-weirdo types and loads of pizza and PBR garage rockers. Still, despite playing to a more moderate crowd, the Nods deliver and then some.
Breakers finally take the stage and launch into their set, and their new bassist is not hard not to miss. It is also hard not to notice a radical change in energy and style of this lineup. While they are certainly able to dish out a good rock n’ roll performance, the magic behind much of what the previous lineup held is largely absent. By this, I mean the clever banter between the original two frontmen and that definable raw energy that largely carried a Breakers gig through thick and thin. The latter may be difficult to gauge, as the new bassist is limited to one spot onstage due to a broken leg—but the performance comes across as a bit tamer than what I’m used to. Breakers, however, are still able to draw on a loyal following no matter where they play and still have the capacity to offend with a quick one-liner. During their set, Brooks makes a quip about the delayed time between sets and says, “Sorry, when we started, we had a 45-minute set change. It’s worse than a three-hour sex change.” To suggest that Breakers are out for the count would be a mistake and a rash judgment. In the past, they have proven to be an adaptable group that easily rises to any occasion. It’ll be interesting to see what comes from their next gig after some needed refinement and adjustment to a new style.
Tonight’s collective anticipation of seeing the legendary Nobunny abounds. Simply put, it’s an act well worth the wait, but that’s how it is with groups that attain such a cult-like status. To see them is to not only knock it off the long bucket list of acts one must check out before joining the deceased, but to also be a part of a collective experience of like-minded rock n’ rollers. As the band does their sound check, a large crowd of eager onlookers gather in front of the small stage. The band is dressed up complete with bunny ears, one member even has a full-body bunny suit. One of the Nobunny bandmates is Pookie Poodle of Pookie and the Poodlez. His voice is distinct—I remember it from when he toured through Salt Lake in 2014 with garage group Primitive Hearts as his backing band.
In preparation for their performance, the band huddles and does jumping jacks as if doing a sort of séance to invoke the presence of Nobunny himself. The crowd begins to chant “Nobunny! Nobunny!” The fabled Nobunny finally emerges onto the stage, and all hell breaks loose. His presence is instantly charismatic and inspires a vibrant response from his audience. Nobunny throws himself wildly all over the stage, with each movement seemingly provoking his fans. His bubblegum-like garage rock n’ roll is easy to move to and has the whole, dimly lit room gyrating to the fast and furious tunes. It’s an infectious and addictive style that uniquely mixes the sentiments of raw and pop into a cute, high-voltage, volatile and dangerous combination’—not mention strangely intense. Nobunny blasts through hit numbers like “Your Mouth,” “I Am A Girlfriend” and a cover of Hunx and his Punx’s “You Don’t Like Rock n’ Roll.” During the encore, Nobunny knocks out an explosive rendition of Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour.”
The audience’s display of affection during the conclusion of the performance is a clear sign of appreciation. Nobunny hangs around and talks to fans while hobbling on a broken toe. His sincerity is both adorably awkward and endearing. On the way out, I ask him to sign a my “Give It to Me” 7,” and he and the band members I am able to track down are more than willing to. In all, it was a fun gig that can be knocked off the list—truly something one should check out if the chance ever arises.