Art Basel is this week and we're doing our best to get as little sleep as possible. Along with the incredible overload of gallery openings, installations sprinkled across the city, parties, weirdos in costumes, exceptionally wealthy & cheesy patrons, reactionary purists, etc, there is also a large number of notable shows/concerts going on and we're going to cover as much Basel music as we can.
Last night, Churchill's hosted Kreamy Lectric Santa's annual homecoming show. Not sure if Kreamy are in town to check out Basel or if it's just a coincidence, but it seems like the timing of the show may account for the scattershot sampling of national artists who were also on the bill. Though not an official Basel music event, the eclectically curated line-up and authentically bizarre locale (CBGB's slowly turned into a museum and now exists in full simulacrum as a Vegas attraction; Churchill's only gets blissfully grimier and weirder) made the show a fine start to the week.
Boise Bob and His Backyard Band play country music. Their set was a mesmerizing performance of Broward County Americana indistinguishable in intent: campy, but also severely earnest. We especially appreciated Boise Bob's between-song banter.
Florida (Tampa, especially) is famous for it's drum and guitar duos and the diversity found within those parameters is striking: the minimal power-pop of Tyger Beat; the no-wave tantrum of Parts and Pieces of Past Ticiples; the noise-punk perfection of Byron House. These bands all use the same two instruments and still cover a lot of distance. If you rubbed off all of the fuzz and echo and ramshackle from hahahelp!'s songs you'd have precious indie-rock. Thankfully, this duo isn't looking for you to pinch their cheeks and instead dress pop numbers in burlap sacks. The phrase "burning the house to clean it" comes to mind. Their Myspace alludes to a more tender hahahelp! - some jangle, some genuine ballads (can't get enough of the sleepy-eyed "Laid Out" remix up there, especially the infectious riff at the end) - but the edges are (thankfully) still raw and blurry.
Kreamy 'Lectric Santa are the ultimate realization of the old axiom "punks is hippies." Wrought from the same 1990s, grab bag Miami/Churchill's rock scene that was home to pop-punk like Los Canadiens, metal sludge like Cavity and noise like the various endeavors of Rat Bastard (Scraping Teeth and Laundry Room Squelchers being perhaps the most historicized), their yearly return to Miami is always a testament to the power of pan-musicality and genre cross-pollination. You could ultimately call them a "rock band" but it wouldn't quite communicate that KLS play an expertly blended style of many rock musics: 90s guitar rock in the vein of Dinosaur Jr., straight ahead gallop pop-punk, crescendo-laden power pop, and, yes, the heaviest of metals. Their 2009 set at Churchill's was a solid 30 minutes of full bodied rock and roll and good natured banter. They seemed like they were glad to be home, and the audience was happy to welcome them.