The best punk shows in Denver in October
Founded in the Harajuku district of Tokyo in 1987, Guitar Wolf was inspired in part by guitarist Seiji's encounter with Link Wray's monumental classic, "Rumble." Hashing together bits of old time rock and roll with punk, garage rock and noise, Guitar Wolf became the kind of band that is undeniably compelling and electrifying live, with some of the most viscerally wild shows around. The outfit's mutant form of music, which it calls "jet rock 'n' roll," crackles around the edges because these people play like they can barely contain the fires burning in their bellies. After the tragic death of bassist Hideaki Sekiguchi (aka Billy Wolf) in 2005, the band regrouped and actually put out a follow-up album called Dead Rock. Guitar Wolf, who shares this bill with the Coathangers, is currently touring in support of its latest record, Beast Vibrator.
Part of that great wave of Southern California punk of the late '70s and early '80s, Agent Orange made great contributions to both the development of hardcore and modern surf rock. "Bloodstains," a song on its 1979 debut EP, championed early on by KROQ's Rodney Binghenheimer, has become a bit of a staple in punk circles. Rather than discovering one sound and sticking solely to that aesthetic, Agent Orange has made songs like "Fire in the Rain" that were too edgy to be pop and too poppy for certain punk purists, and in the late '80s the band fully explored fusing punk with surf, with Same Bolle going on to play in Dick Dale's band. Agent Orange shares this bill with Guttermouth and Pinata Protest.
Jennifer and Jessica Clavin were once members of Mika Miko, a punk band that was part of the group of bands that helped put legendary Los Angeles D.I.Y. venue the Smell on the map. In that band, the Clavins seemed to fully adopt the do-whatever-you-want spirit of the first wave of punk and wrote some of the most unpredictably visceral, heartfelt and humorous songs of the period. These days, the sisters are teamed up with Joanthan Safley and Micayla Grace in Bleached, an act that trades in the charmingly splintery and loose style in for more summery melodies.
Purportedly all three members of Residual Kid are under sixteen years old. But either way, these guys didn't start overnight and had been gigging around their hometown of Austin, Texas, for a few years before the band's singer decided to split in 2011. Rather than be cowed by that setback, the band returned a few months later with a different sound and a brand new batch of songs. At the intersection of Nirvana, Shellac and Sonic Youth, you'll find something of the essence that informs not just the sound of this band but also its surprisingly confident and eruptive live performance. Sure, the initial novelty of "kids" playing such rough and tumble music is what draws some people in, but these guys are no fluke. They're not quaint; they're just a solid, respectable punk rock band with an ear for taking the music to interesting places.
Houston's Dirty Rotten Imbeciles formed in 1982 as a kind of straight ahead hardcore band in the classic mold. But D.R.I. perfectly captured a time when several hardcore bands embraced a love for non-mainstream metal and thrash. The band's epochal 1987 album Crossover is both a definitive work in that style of music, as well as a more or less formal acknowledgement of an ongoing phenomenon among its peers in groups like Suicidal Tendencies and Corrosion of Conformity. Original members Spike Cassidy, now recovered from a bout with cancer around a decade ago, and Kurt Brecht are still in the band. While the long-threatened eight album has yet to be released, D.R.I. continues to tour and consistently brings a high energy show wherever it goes.
Tokyo's Melt Banana began in 1992, and it blossomed into the sort of band that is to punk rock what Japanese horror movies in the last two decades have been to horror cinema -- an inventive and powerful shot in the arm. Anyone who has seen Melt Banana knows they're in for a thrilling jolt with frenetic and visceral performances with the a sharp, relentless physical impact. The group's music is unlike much of anything out there; the trio has been involved in making music with the likes of legendary avant-garde/noise artist Merzbow, death metal/jazz genius John Zorn and the multi-faceted vocal talent Mike Patton. Yasuko Onuki is a fiery presence as the singer, and Ichirou Agata's brilliantly diverse use of unexpected guitar sounds within the context of a grindcore-esque rhythmic attack is nothing less than inspiring.
Founded in 1999, this band was started by King Khan who had been in Montreal-based garage rock groups the Spaceshits and Kukamongas. Often associated with the Atlanta, Georgia, underground rock milieu of the early 2000s, King Khan & The Shrines fit in well with that city's embrace of the eccentric and eclectic. Noted for its theatrical flair and not really seeing any necessary divide between punk, garage and soul, this band at one time also included in its line-up Ron Streeter, who had played with Bo Diddley, Curtis Mayfield, Ike and Tina Turner and Stevie Wonder. Clearly Khan didn't see a need to recognize the usual age barriers in band membership, either. Currently touring in support of Idle No More, King Khan and The Shrines will be part punk rock show and part old soul revue showmanship -- surely a welcome change from the usual sort of punk rock.
David Castillo, the primary songwriter in Pizza Time, started this project as a solo affair, but his sonic roots seems to always have been in '60s garage rock and punk of one stripe or another. If he could have been living in Tacoma, Washington in the '60s, he probably would have ended up as the goofy but good-natured and smart member of a band that would have shared the stage with the likes of the Wailers and the Sonics. Now with Seth Stone on drums and visual artist Frank Brack playing tambourine, with threats of breaking out his Jupiter synth, Pizza Time has become a more fully-realized project. Greasy Demos was a promising slice of garage rock hooliganism, but the band's latest album, XXXXX is an earnest, seemingly all Spanish-language folk/punk/garage rock album -- which just goes to show you that this particular Pizza doesn't fit conveniently into any box. (Pizza Time is also playing at Lost Lake on Monday, October 7.)
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