Concert Reviews

Lil Slugger brings their comic book to life at Rhino

Lil Slugger • Hot White • Good Old Fashioned Sinners
05.22.10 | Rhinoceropolis

Evidently, this was some sort of reunion show for openers Good Old Fashioned Sinners, or perhaps just a coming out of hibernation party. The foursome -- looking like they could've been in Alice Bowie -- launched to a set of music that at first recalled latter day Animal Collective -- ghostly indie pop with whimsical vocals treated with delay over the top -- but, eventually, as the set wore on, became fused with the driving krautrock for a sounded like Devo working with Neu!, only poppier.

Hot White was up next and played mostly new material. But since most of this crowd probably hadn't seen the band before, they may not have even been aware that the act was stretching into relatively unknown territory.

Before the set started, Tiana Bernard and Kevin Wesley teased a bit of "Warsaw" by Joy Division and "The Model" by Kraftwerk, but once they delved into a set of their own music, it was as though the trio had pulled apart its spiky, spirited and driven aesthetic and put it back together in random places like Frankenstein's monster.

At the end, some joker called bullshit on the show being over and gave Hot White some friendly razzing to play more. Bernard responded by yelling an expletive at the heckler, and then hurling a drink at him.

Lil Slugger, the guests of honor on this evening, who were releasing a comic book, which included a link to the band's entire discography, closed the night out. To kick things off, each member of the band appeared on stage with paper mask that looked like his persona in the comic book. Walrus even had on a purple T-shirt that said, "I Am the Walrus."

Musically, Lil Slugger is impossible to strictly categorize. Nonetheless, inside its disjointed phrases and contorted rhythms lies the angular jazz punk of the Minutemen, Captain Beefheart's disregard for conventional melodies and Chrome's own alien soundtracks and half-machine lip moves, and if you listen closely, you can also hear what sounds like John McLaughlin playing with the Residents.

Slugger's encore consisted of two songs, including the Devo-esque "Big Red" and a number in which co-drummer Justin sang lead vocals. Lil Slugger might not appeal to those with mainstream sensibilities, but the band nevertheless makes a great case for trying something creatively challenging and artistically interesting.

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: Creative performance elements in a show are always welcome. Random Detail: Ran into Suzi Allegra. By the Way: The Lil Slugger comic book is pretty amusing, and some putative music journalist gets puked upon in one of the frames.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.