The City Weekly Music Awards Showcase at Monk's started off with a bang.
By the end the first night of the festivities had turned into a dance party.
Laserfang opened with an ominous synth drone, not surprisingly since they had three on stage, banks of keyboards resembling the command center of some musical starship. (Not "Starship" as in "We Built This City...";) They went into a kind of Radiohead disco groove, with a long build-up before Shane Asbridge kicked in with lyrics, and a bit of a Thom Yorke resemblance. It was a dance number, with heavy bass as well as percussion. This band is clearly all about dancing.
Stephen Chai's melodica and sax added a jazz vibe. A number with disco shuffle beat and shimmering piano sounds went from vocal chorus into a rock break, then downbeat. The sax, on top of funky guitar added a 'no-wave' ambience like the funkier Talking Heads stuff. They ended with a flourish with a full-on new wave disco groove.
Then The Furs. The Furs are like Brian Jonestown Massacre without Anton Newcombe's psychodrama. Bassist Matt Hill and guitarist Bryan Mink are dressed all in black like the Velvet Underground, Hill even adding a scarf and dark glasses. It's tempting to call drummer Stephanie Marlow the Mo Tucker of the equation.
After several ballads they commence a slower, feedback-ridden dirge. They seem to work into their full-bore set gradually. Even the Velvet's trademark bored look seems to play ironically now, layers of irony on top of irony. The Furs only played a half hour, but left the audience happy. Their 'less is more' set list contrasted with their sonic approach of 'more is more.'
The Purr Bats round out the evening, donning orange Native American robes and headdresses, except for singer Kyrbr in schoolboy outfit and headdress. Kyrbr has been a familiar voice in Salt Lake music with all his projects over the years, and the sound brings many flashbacks from the Moroccan. His schoolboy whine with a touch of bravado is perfect for their music.
Kyrbyr is right out on the floor with people dancing; stomping and flailing his arms at times like disco aerobics. Dave Payne brings the keytar, keyboardist Jesse Winters and drummer James Acton are both Ether alumni, Derwood wields the bass and Terrence Warburton is on guitar for a real ensemble. The combination of all this is a rhythm that's positively tribal. They are so energetic they have to pause in between songs simply to catch their breath.
Some of their lyrics go way back to the days of Puri-Do in the early 90's: "I met a boy from BYU/he keeps me in his mouth." They conclude with the 60's garage rock beat of "Floozy" and finally a full-on disco number complete with video game noises. By the end of the evening the whole room is moving. It's been the kind of evening when you go home and your clothes are sweat-soaked.
The games are on!