Mustangs and Madras farewell show With Get Three Coffins Ready, Only Thunder, the Gunshy and Git Some Saturday, January 23, 2010 3 Kings Tavern Better Than: Virtually every other five-band bill I've seen.
The five members of Get Three Coffins Ready played the kind of high-energy, glittery surf rock that The Mermen helped to evolve. Coffins also bordered on space rock at points, and flirted with Dick Dale territory, but didn't edge into Duane Eddy-esque rockabilly. Sweeping, spacious breakdowns and tastefully propulsive rhythms made for compelling dynamics.
Either Only Thunder has gotten a lot better since I last saw the band or I've come around to liking what those guys are doing. Probably somewhere in between. Sure, the music is that sort of melodic hardcore that could even be called "emo," but you wouldn't want to paint a band this good with that broad a brush.
On this night, Only Thunder had inventive, interlocking, tight dynamics between the rhythm section and the three guitars and three vocalists who can all actually sing well -- together in harmony or separately. What I appreciated the most was how well these guys used atmosphere and melody to build dramatic tension in each song.
Chicago's the Gunshy is a four-piece fronted by Matt Arbogast, who said that he sort of started down the line of having a full band with the Gunshy because of the encouragement of the guys from Mustangs and Madras. The act sounded something like if Bruce Springsteen started a punk rock band and toned down on the extravagant bombast. A bit reminiscent of 80s-era NRBQ, the earnest, gutsy, rootsy was fueled by the heartache and disappointment running through the lyrics channeled into the joy of release through rock and roll.
It must've been a while since I last saw Git Some, as I didn't recognize a single song in this set. It sounded like Andrew Lindstrom had played around with the core rhythms the band employed in the past without losing any of the intensity -- this time it had a more tribal feel. The songs definitely seemed to have an ear for the layering of sounds without losing the desperate onslaught for which the band is known.
But most noticeable to me was the fact that I could discern Luke Fairchild's vocals as actual words. I loved the inspired incoherence of his performance at other shows, but with this set he used his words almost as weapons, and it was much more obvious that there is intelligence behind the fury of Git Some's barrage of sound.
Mustangs and Madras never played a less than stellar set that I'd ever seen, and this night was no exception. Opening with "Carlos," the guys launched into sixteen songs spanning the band's entire existence. With few pauses, the act blazed through a series of songs any band would be proud to have written including "Packet," "Tomahawk," "Ides," and "Demon Stance."
It was impressive to see these five guys throw themselves fully into each song. Sure, it was their last show as a band together. Even so, they could have skimped on the passion or energy, but that didn't happen. What I'll miss not having this band around is the breadth of its sonic palette in the heavier local music. Mustangs was always more than a post-hardcore band with its roots in emo.
This set proved that not only was this band more artistically ambitious than most, it also didn't try to be anyone else and always followed the collective instincts of its members toward doing something they wanted to do together as a band. Closing with "Dangling Modifier," Mustangs ended their tenure with no paradox in their grace.
Personal Bias: I definitely didn't want to miss the final Mustangs and Madras show. Random Detail: Ran into John Hruska of Fucking Orange at the show. He's in Eddie Maestas-Vigil's next project. By the Way: Mustangs and Madras' new EP? Killer.
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