When thinking about Saturday night's Kid Congo Powers & the Pink Monkey Birds show at the Jackpot, descriptions keep coming to me in fits and starts. The stamp's still on my hand, my ears are still ringing, and I can look at these photos; but it all seems too wonderful to be real.
I remember standing at the side of the stage with some acquaintances, and we'd look at each other after every song, and say, "Wow." Every song. (One exception: The guitar freakout on "Black Santa" might've gotten a "holy fuck," or at least it did in my notes.) Kid Congo played his guitar like it was a part of him, but his guitar playing wasn't the craziest bit of guitar work I saw during the show. Keyboard player Jason Ward topped Kid Congo by using the head stock of his guitar to play one of those touch-pad synthesizers while he was playing his guitar.
In addition to the rock 'n' roll, there was a hefty dose of spectacle. Kid Congo clapped his hands, and glitter appeared everywhere, like magic. The band was wearing matching matador outfits. Everyone was dancing and having fun -- hell, I was dancing, and I can count the number of times I've done that sober on...actually, no hands.
Aside from the Cramps' "I'm Cramped" and the Gun Club's "For the Love of Ivy" and "Sex Beat" (which got turned into a real grinder), I was completely unfamiliar with any of Kid's solo work. It didn't matter. The band was so tight and perfectly balanced that things like the tremendous bass work Kiki Solis did on the show-closer "Lord Bloodbathington" were all you needed to get in the groove and move.
Now, what about the openers? Well, this was the Spook Lights' first show back since their mutual parting of ways with keyboardist and bass player Zeppelina Mystery. They switched up the set list, busting out tunes like their cover of Eddie Cochran's "Nervous Breakdown" that hadn't seen the light of day in a while. As well as the return of some popular favorites, the band debuted two new songs. One, "Pink Palace" had a slide guitar feel, and is very Gun Clubby -- well suited to the environment in which it debuted, to be sure. There was another at the end of the set that I didn't catch the name of, but can state that it's the dirtiest rock 'n' roll number the Spook Lights have written yet.
The band was on point as openers. Frontman Scary Manilow was walking around like a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs before the band went on stage, but there was no reason to be nervous. Guitarists Jet Boy and Curvacia Vavoom played off one another better than I'd ever heard them do, and the Meld's drum parts have either been reworked to compensate for the recent lack of bass, or they were just higher in the mix. Either way, there was much more beat in the Spook Lights' sound than I'd ever heard before.
Weird Wounds seem to emphasize certain elements of their sound every time I see them. In the past, they've been more arty, but Saturday night, they were a snotty-as-fuck punk band. It was probably the "straightest" Weird Wounds show I've seen before, with Grant's vocals getting really close to drunk punk style a la Blanks 77 or L.E.S. Stitches.
As a reference point, the other three members of the band were acting like they were all Charlie Watts, and Grant was Iggy Pop. Yes, I know that's mixing bands, but it's apt, considering at one point, Grant looked at the set list, said, "How many more songs? Two?" He then groaned, and it was, "Fuck it, we're done." And they were.
The Harrisonics are a brand new band whom I've not seen before. It's got Jon Harrison, formerly of the What Gives, on guitar and vocals, his wife, Kit, on drums, a dude I've seen but can't name on bass, and I believe it was Paul from the Midday Ramblers on lead guitar. They played jangly power pop, and I expected nothing less. There were people yammering through their entire set, and I wasn't able to hear as much as I would've liked, stuck as I was holding down our booth while my wife was kind enough to run home and get me a forgotten camera battery. Still, even at the back of the Jackpot, one could hear the Byrds-y harmonies and very bluesy guitar solos that were surprisingly complex to be found in the middle of such pop tuneage.
While I was exhausted by show's end (as you no doubt are after this marathon of a review), it was completely worth spending nearly five solid hours at the Jackpot. Every band was spot-on, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining bill.