Git Some kicked off night two of Pure Sunshine last night at the Bluebird Theater. The act's lyrics are often washed out by the torrent of guitar sound, but this time out, it became clear that this band has much to say about survival and living with dignity. It seems as though Git Some's music and performances have become more and more focused lately, and the internal dynamism and shifting of tones of each song is often more than a discharge of frustration and outrage. These guys haven't lost their edge -- they've just learned to be more creative in its use.
After Git Some, the Geniuses took the stage. The band, which features Garrett Brittenham and Rich Groskopf of Boss 302 and Kurt Ohlen and Barry Newton of Orangu-Tones, combines the best of those two outfits and weaves together the strands of garage rock and punk with rockabilly.
Ohlen and Newton continue to purvey the stripped down approach of their old band that meshes well with what Brittenham and Groskopf did in their former group. Groskopf's warm, soulful croon mixes well with Brittenham's melodic vocals, alongside those of Ohlen, making the band sound like a power pop outfit coloring outside the aesthetic lines and giving the music emotional nuance.
The Omens don't play many shows these days, so this was a rare chance to see the band outside of its normal environs of a small club or bar show. Matt Hunt joked (or not) about how we should drink tequila, or at least more of it, "because it helps." This band has had wilder shows, but at least for this one, everything seemed to come together.
Unlike many of the band's artistic cousins, the songwriting of the Omens has true diversity both in terms of dynamics and in how each sound is used. A lot of bands going for the garage rock thing seem to think screaming once in a while between quasi-aggressive riffs and a hint of psychedelia suffices, but the Omens are clearly trying to play music people might want to listen to for more than a couple of years.
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The Purple Fluid, which features Rick Kulwicki's twin sons, followed the Omens. And from the beginning, the band's influences were obvious -- the Stooges, the Ramones and the New York Dolls. But the band's confident performance and sheer volume carried it beyond a mere list of influences, as evidenced by one of its originals "Psycho."
The boys were joined by their father's former bandmates in the Fluid, Garrett Shavlik, who played drums for the entire set, and John Robinson, who sat in for two Fluid songs, "You" and "It's My Time." Robinson and Richard Kulwicki looked like had been singing together for some time now. While Robinson is one of the best rock and roll frontmen of our lifetime, Richard showed himself not so bad for a fledgling performer of charisma in his own right.
The night before, longtime Fluid fan and archivist, Jim Hucks, shot footage of "You":
It was a bit surreal to see the Buckingham Squares without Ricky Kulwicki, especially after first hearing about the project from Rick's own mouth, as well as the proposed name as a reference to an old mall in Ricky's hometown of Aurora, Colorado. But the foursome didn't let the weight of the tragedy of Rick's death slow them down.
Instead, the Squares seemed to work extra hard at pulling off the songs they played. Beginning with "Pump It Up" by Elvis Costello. Matt Bischoff was something of a guitar monster throughout, playing both rhythm and lead without the presence of his old friend. The band took us through its usual faire of excellent garage rock played how it was meant to be and, by popular demand, stayed on to do an encore.
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Despite going on so late, the Overcasters made the best of the end of the night. Before playing, singer/guitarist Kurt Ottaway related to us a bit of homespun wisdom, "It's nice to be important. It's more important to be nice." Mainly because, as Ricky would have put it, "Life is too long." With a full set that included "Kiss of Sister Ray" and the harrowing "Vertigo," the Overcasters were a welcome departure from an entire night of garage rock.
The group's rippling projections provided something like a live tie dye lightshow, and at points, purely on accident, there seemed to be a huge halo around Ottaway's head. This was new bass player, Todd Spriggs' second ever show with the band and he acquitted himself admirably with a taste for tiny nuances, while sacrificing none of the power.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: Ricky Kulwicki was a dear friend and a benefit for his sons and in his memory would be worth going to no matter who was playing. Fortunately, bands he loved and would have loved played both nights. Random Detail: Ran into Kelly Merrick formerly of the Speedholes at the show and talked to her about her younger days in the Seattle scene in the '80s. Also, a couple of SG-style guitars made by James Clower and Matt Flaherty (Texas Toast Custom Guitars) were raffled. Former Red Glow Aviator guitarist/current Crash! guitarist, Sean Anderson, won one of those fine instruments. By the Way: If you couldn't attend either show, you can still make a donation.