Diabolical and Albatross Records have carved out a much needed niche in Salt Lake City for the hip weirdoes to congregate. Not only does this shop have a top selection of records, but they put on some of the better gigs in town. All the gigs are all ages, allowing anybody and everybody to get involved without the hassle having to get out their fakes or bribing the doorman. The atmosphere and community that gigs inspire here fills me with nostalgia for the days of the Lo-Fi Café in the early 2000s.
Like the venue of old, Diabolical/Albatross hosts a variety of different acts per show, while also providing a relaxed atmosphere to hang out in. Also like Lo-Fi Café, young and old gig goers can get the up close and personal experience of being at a show—so close that you could be at risk from shards of a smashed bass spinning past your ear. Obviously I am no stranger to this hive of scum and villainy, but my reason for being here on this particular evening was something of divine inspiration. I was here on a mission from god to see The Rich Hands.
Having plenty of time to spare, I hung around and observed as the odds and ends were sorted out. Members of Divers, Lust Cats of the Gutters and Twin Steps moved about, getting well acquainted with the venue. First up and wasting little time, Divers launched into their set with a frenzy of heavy drums backing distorted vocals. They displayed brilliant showmanship, blasting out each number with soul-shattering energy, sounding very much like The Strokes meets Elvis Costello with a heavy helping of Bruce Springsteen. Harrison, their vocalist/lead guitarist, launched into each number with passion-filled crooning that would have been worthy of Joe Strummer. Holding nothing back, Divers gave the small audience at Diabolical/Albatross their all during every number. Despite the impressive display of performance, the audience did not exhibit much excitement in return.
Twin Steps followed the precedent set by Divers with a ferocity not seen since King Khan and the Shrines graced our salty shores with their presence back in October 2013, playing a sort of funk coupled with hardcore thrashing style. Their vocalist/sampler Drew Pearson threw himself into each song seemingly bewitched as he thrashed into the audience, swaying around and engaging those close enough to get in his way. Despite this exciting performance, their sound was much to be desired. Unable to pick out exactly what I was listening to, I felt swallowed up by a wave of noise that lacked melody and was plagued by distortion. However, even this lack of distinguishable sound was made up by Pearson’s energetic and wild stage presence that was provoking on its own.
The intensity of Twin Steps seemed to drag out even after their conclusion. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, The Rich Hands set up and launched into their set. They simply played through, but without a defining passion that had marked their predecessors. Playing power pop inspired rock n’ roll, they knocked out numbers like “Teenager” from their new album, Out of My Head, with seemingly well-rehearsed simplicity. It seemed that they were just going through the motions and getting it over with. Though, their last number did seem to inspire some enthusiasm. They left on an upbeat, feel-good note, which left an itch still needing to be scratched. The Rich Hands provided an antiquate but not great rock n’ roll show. If measuring the audience’s reaction to them were a sign, they were well received for their time. However, their act was not the defining set of the night. Other acts picked up where the energetic void had left off in The Rich Hands wake.
Picking up where Twin Steps had left off, the Lust-Cats of the Gutters relit the energy by blasting out snot-filled, poppy rock ‘n roll. The drummer, Alex Edgeworth, threw herself into every beat and guitarist/vocalist Robin Edwards delivered echoing vocals. They held a captive audience from start to finish. They put on an impressive performance that satisfied my itch. Jawwzz!! brought a thundering close to this shin-dig in an intense onslaught of furiously loud post-punk with haunting vocals from Chaz Costello, sounding very much like Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. During the set they brought out theatrics that included balloons, confetti poppers and a fog machine, keeping the audience fixated with keen interest.
Though I had been hoping for more from the band I came to see, this can be easily overlooked since acts like Divers and Lust Cats of the Gutter provided the entertainment I needed to walk away content. It is easy to see why a band like Jawwzz!! closed out the evening rather than The Rich Hands, since I could have just gotten the same experience listening to their album with a little less whoa oh oh…