In case anyone was counting, it's probably been at least two years since we last saw Mr. Pacman on stage, possibly three. So this rare Pacman appearance was a real treat, despite the sauna-like swelter of the main room in Rhinoceropolis. There was no band this time, just Pacman, his Yamaha keytar and some pre-programmed samples. Switching between heavy vocoder on one mike and a clean signal through the other, Pacman upped the ante a little on his frenzied and moderately disorienting but danceable schtick.
Toward the end of the set, Cap'n Fresh joined Pacman for a song about parties all the time. The madness ended with "You Can Be the Hero" and Pacman soliciting the enthusiastic audience to join in on the choruses.
In the kitchen of Rhino, things were a little more cooled down with better air circulation, and that's where Bongo Fury set up its unamplified instruments. For this show, Darren Kulback, the drummer of Hot White, filled in on bells and gong in the absence of Marcy Saude, for the usual seemingly out of place set of organic drones, stirring rhythms and intense vocals in the style of certain strains of Middle Eastern classical music.
Toward the end of the set, Tripp Wallin all but stood up and faced Zach Spencer in an almost confrontational stance that felt more like he was egging Spencer on to greater emotional heights in his performance.
Quintron and Miss Pussycat was an altogether unusual experience all its own. After Quintron got his equipment set up (vintage keyboards, odd devices, lighted knobs and buttons et. al.), a peculiar puppet show started in the back. Brilliant colors bolstered a tripped out story about making pizza and being busted for it, plus deranged monkeys and killing cops who thwart the making of the pizza. The whole scene made for a darker Pee Wee's Playhouse vibe.
When Quintron and Miss Pussycat came out from behind the small puppet theater, they launched into an incredible set of aggro carnival music. The heat rose so much during the band's show that only the heartiest of souls stayed to the end. Fortunately that was most of the assembled crowd. Those that went outside got to enjoy the sounds despite not having the direct contact.
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It was probably inevitable, but Little Fyodor & Babushka band have become popular with a younger crowd. At points during the set there was even something of a pit where people got out their aggressions to the frenetic punk rock that is at the core of what this group does. The kids seemed to be very much into Fyodor and company's unique stage show and songs.
Opening with "Deathwish," the band did not let up until closing with the always smile-inducing "Dance of the Salted Slug." But there was such a spirit of enthusiasm that Little Fyodor and the rest of the band were convinced to do an encore consisting of "I Wanna Be the Buddha."
After "Salted Slug," it looked like Little Fyodor hurt himself because he was bleeding when he came back to the stage after some time out in the crowd. Regardless, he didn't complain or comment, and it didn't curb him from going for the encore. In this day and age, especially for a guy Fyodor's age, that is about as punk rock as it gets.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: Little Fyodor & Babushka band is the most punk rock thing in Denver. Random Detail: Quintron looks like a young David Lynch. By the Way: Little Fyodor sells merch dating back to the early '80s when he was in Walls of Genius, including his collaborative 7-inch with The Haters. Get that stuff while you still can.