As previously reported, the Talking Head recently left it's longtime Davis Street location for new digs inside Sonar. Earlier this week, a couple shows were held in Sonar's smaller-stage Club room, but Wednesday's show went down in the space's former lounge, the Talking Head's official new home.
Upon arriving at Sonar, the only notice of a new tenant was a hand-lettered sign propped up at ground level next to an alley entrance. The narrow, dimly lit passage, nearly blocked by a parked van, gave the evening a clandestine air apropos for the punk-rooted show bill. Stepping inside was disorienting--the lounge's posh leather sofas and pool table were haphazardly jammed up against one wall, requiring a quick side step as one entered the lounge proper. A rough foot and a half-tall platform--flanked by a splotchy, unfinished wall--was set up opposite the intact bar. A tiny merch table was squeezed into a corner beside a hodgepodge of amps and other audio equipment. Clearly, it was a room in transition, like a basement storage space that just happened to be lit with the golden ambiance of fancy, crackled-glass ceiling lamps.
Having heard that hometown act
was opening with a surprise set, Noise arrived early, catching the band in midsong. The band nailed that tightly wound, thrashy Southern Cali punk like the past 20-odd years never happened. Think: Descendents-esque bass lines and unrelenting vox courtesy of singer Tony Pence, who got in an impressive jack-knife jump without fumbling a word. Like most good things, Deep Sleep's set was over just a little too soon.
Next up was another unbilled addition, Chapel Hill, N.C.'s
: a twangy foursome complete with slide guitar and a singer affecting that booze-wearied drawl. While pleasant enough, the group didn't impress. To be fair, the sound in the lounge was borderline terrible--the space is, essentially, a concrete box, for now at least. Assumedly, this explains why the singer's guitar sounded scratchy and fuzzed out in the worst way. Then again, the slide guitar rang out silver and clear. The drummer fascinated by pulling some excellent, pained faces as he pounded away, and the wiry lead singer went all mad scientist at set's end, throwing his guitar to the ground, clambering precariously atop the drum kit, and conjuring some wavering feedback from his amp during the extended outro.
, from Austin, Texas, were up next. Like their tourmates the Spider Bags, this group played country-tinged rock, complete with booze references. However, the Golden Boys hail from a markedly rowdier, garage rock sound prone to lo-fi messiness. Throughout its set, the group would drop the twang in favor of cacophonous, vaguely psychedelic midsong breakdowns punctuated by monkey-house yelps. The keyboardist seemed promising at first--and again, maybe it was a sound issue--but didn't seem to bring much of anything to the set. All in all, the Golden Boys came off as a bit silly and muddled.
After a longish break, the crowd rallied 'round for skrunky degenerates
, including a few curious interlopers from Sonar's local hip-hop show, who seemed torn between fist-pumping or creeping back out the door. Loud and surly with a touch of butt-rock glamour, Hollywood specializes in heavy riffs and dude-vox pile-ups reminiscent, at moments, of early Suicidal Tendencies. The five-piece spilled off the low stage--the singer perched on an amp surveying the crowd with a hint of bitter amusement, the guitarist slid on his knees across the floor in fully serious rocker pose. The set was roiling, willfully meatheadish party punk perfect for those nights when you can't remember how you broke your arm and mortally offended all your friends.
Next up was Montreal's
, which likewise played chaotic, anti-social garage punk--though far less convincing than Hollywood. Noise didn't catch too much of its set as the affected nihilism came off as merely obnoxious. Luckily,
music editor Michael Byrne was there to fill in the details for the rest of the night's acts: