Friday, April 2, 2010

Live: Pygmy Shrews + TODD

When: 3/12/10
Where: Death By Audio

I've been trying to get out to see the Pygmy Shrews for ages and could barely stand waiting the hour and a half or so the band was late to this show. But damn was it worth it.

OK, so Pygmy Shrews are someone from Drunkdriver and another guy and a girl. The girl, Tia Vincent, plays bass and she looks like the last person you'd expect to see in a hardcore band - she's the extremely shy, slightly stout girl with the conservative haircut and conservative clothes who you see in the elevator sometimes and try to say hi to. Well, that's who she looks like. But instead, she friggin shreds the bass and unleashes melodic but definitely punk vocals over the racket. The guitarist, one Ben Greenburt, is phenomenal too, with lightning-fast post-hardcore riffs and his own even hardercore vocals.

For all their distorted, high-speed fury, the band never loses its focus on songs and melodies. Unfortunately, at Death by Audio, the vocals were a little too quite to fully convey the band's knack for writing, but even here, it's evident each song is as catchy as it is loud. Pygmy Shrews, simply put, are a damn good listen. [myspace]

A band called TODD also played. They live in the UK but their origins are in Texas and their defining feature is a frontman who viciously beats himself about the face and head and yells. He was very drunk and at one point, fell down on the floor and the exited while the rest of his band attempted to keep the set alive. He did come back, eventually. This is a guy who has broken at least one of at least one audience member in his career as a singer. Well, "singer."

As the violence clearly illustrates, TODD is as much performance art as it is music. But they are genuine - you can't fake that, not to that intensity. The only really offputting thing about the show was that I felt like the audience were all in on some inside joke I just did not know about. They kept laughing at things and there seemed to be some sort of ritual of heckling the frontman and dancing out dangerously close to him in the little semicircle in front of (not on) the stage where he performed. Sometimes he would go after these dancers/moshers/whatever with real malice.

Except for the feeling that there was some big joke I didn't know about the band, one that would probably make me like them much less if I knew it, I definitely enjoyed them. Of course, lots of noise plus a frontman who beats up himself and others is pretty much a recipe for success. Or am I giving them too much credit? [myspace]


Taleatia said...

Stout!? Oh god damn it.

radioflyer said...

I hope I didn't cause offense. I'm apparently a terrible judge of height so I could be all wrong on that one! My point was just that unassuming, normal-looking people playing punk are more exciting to me than androgynous John Lydon look-alikes with tats all over they faces doing it. Not that there's anything wrong with androgynous John Lydon look-alikes either, but the reason I love punk and indie so much is that it's one of the most populist art forms out there. I like thinking that the shy girl on the elevator at work has a whole other life where she screams and shreds on the bass in an awesome band.

Pygmy Shrews are the only band I like anymore. I actually met one of my current bandmates because he posted on Craigslist looking for people to play with and he mentioned the Pygmy Shrews.