A Lesson in Inspired Individuality From Quintron and Miss Pussycat

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Quintron and Miss Pussycat were probably kids in the '70s and witnessed/were subjected to/were fascinated with/were disturbed by some of the creepier Sid & Marty Krofft shows, like Lidsville, H.R. Pufnstuf and Far Out Space Nuts. Somehow, those phantasmagoric and psychedelic TV shows were deemed worthy fare for Saturday-morning entertainment alongside cartoons. Come to think of it, a lot of the cartoons were pretty tripped out, too, and have stayed that way since.

Whatever its true feelings on bizarre kids' shows of the '60s and '70s, Quintron and Miss Pussycat do plenty of their own surreal puppet-show strangeness at the beginning of their shows. This time around, the show was a commentary on the nature of the housing crisis that seems to be part of the experience of creative types and the poor on the national level in most places. At least two of the puppets were buildings that the main character, a princess, wanted to live within only to have unusual interactions all along the way, including goblins, who plaguing the local community with their nefarious designs. 
The set itself was made of a blow-up castle that wasn't fully inflated until nearly the end, when a sofa character took over and claimed its rightful place in the large structure. When the whole strange story came to an end, sticks with letters on both sides of a card-panel indicated, without mincing words, first “THE” and then “END.” Following that, Quintron and Miss Pussycat took the stage and played mpassioned but playful Jerry Lee Lewis-esque rock and roll, sort of. It was essentially strange but always engaging and accessible.

At some point, Quintron told us a story about how he was playing a show or just generally being around the environs of the Denver club the Raven sometime in 2000 when he ran into or met Mike Watt who gave him sixty dollars for the show. It was hard to say whether it was as an opener or Watt just ran into Quintron elsewhere and gave him sixty dollars to come to the show. At any rate, Quintron pointed out to us as part of the story that you should, “respect your elders,” and if you see someone is struggling and sixty dollars doesn't mean a whole lot to you that you can turn a bad situation into something better. Presumably he is talking about one of those nights when the opener doesn't make much or when due to some booking mix-up you end up on tour and have a date drop off and find yourself in a city far from home with bleak prospects before traveling to the next city to play, over eight hours away. Whatever the case, Mike Watt saved the day.

After a full set, Miss Pussycat left the front of the stage and Quintron asked the sound guy to turn off the P.A. so that he could treat us to his flamboyant cover of the theme from the Addams Family television series. No amplification beyond the amp on stage, no harpsichord, just Quintron's proprietary keyboard rig. Considering the inspired weirdness of the rest of the show it couldn't have been a more perfect way to end the show. Critic’s Notebook Bias: Anyone who brings more than the usual kind of visual projection or the standard rock and roll presentation to the show has my attention.Quintron and Missy Pussycat never fail to do something weird and interesting without making it into a throwaway gimmick.

Random Detail: Denver's Hair Cult and the Nots from Memphis, Tennessee opened the show. Guitarist and lead singer Natalie Hoffman used to be in the great Memphis psych/punk group Ex-Cult. The Nots had the same kind of fiery, wiry energy that Hoffman exuded in her former band.

By the Way: The Nots and Quintron and Miss Pussycat are on the same label, the excellent Goner Records.  

If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.

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