Before taking the stage, Magic Cyclops or someone was playing a bit of the music from the movie Fletch over the P.A., which was amusing on its own. After informing everyone that he had played the fetus from the movie 2001, Magic performed his song about that "special time of the month for all you ladies" called "Rainbow of Pain."
After Magic's next song, about thinking too much, a heckler, in typically uncreative fashion, told Magic he sucked. Magic replied with, "Here's some herbal Viagra -- why don't you go fuck yourself?" And to nail the point home, Cyclops did his extremely short "Life, the Anti-Drug."
Getting Derek van Westrum, aka D-Rok, to the stage for a birthday song, as it was D-Rok's actual birthday, Magic made it an awkward moment, as only he can, by performing a twisted but hilarious sexual-predator song, as well as the song about being an Iowan and the Trans-Am-esque "I Am the Sex." Finally, the set ended with a cover of one of the most ridiculous songs ever penned, "Total Eclipse of the Heart," which included help at the end from a puppet.
Before his band's set, Hot White guitarist Kevin Wesley bent backward nearly in half in preparation for his wild gyrations during the show. Bassist Tiana Bernard, meanwhile, announced that she felt like she was going to puke, a proclamation that, thankfully, didn't end up coming to fruition.
Between Bernard's grinding, gritty bass lines, Darren Kulback's versatile but always manic drumming and Wesley's slashing, spiraling, charging, screaming guitar sound, Hot White sounded like a deadly machine crashing into and demolishing everything in its path. Although the group's set was filled with mostly newer songs, the trio performed older songs like "Pre-Teen Wet Dream," a tune which K.C. K-Sum made a video for earlier in the year, and "Issei Sagawa Said She Was Totally Delicious."
At the end of the set, Bernard violently tipped Kulback over sideways across his drum set, and for his part, he pushed her off her feet to the stage against Wesley. Before it was all over, K.C. made his way to the stage and declared, "Hot White, ladies and gentlemen, the best band in Denver."
The two-piece version of the Melvins featuring King Buzzo and Dale Crover was, of course, excellent. Over the course of their set, somehow Buzzo always managed to sound crisp yet wild as Crover drove each song with power and versatility. "Black Bock" was chilling in its bleak intensity, and it was followed by a medley of older rock songs, including "Let Me Roll It," by Wings. The deep riff of "Suicide in Progress" was bracing, and the stripped-down version of "Set Me Straight" was surprisingly effective. Maybe this was Melvins Lite, but there was nothing subpar about a moment of it.
The words "Speed Metal" imprinted on the head of the kick-drum face pretty much summed up the sounds offered up by Tauntaun, a brand of metal popularized in the early '80s by bands like Iron Maiden, Anvil, Motorhead and Fastway. But Tauntaun has notably updated things for the modern era with expertly growled vocals and surprisingly able musicianship all around. Drummer Dave Barker looked simply psychotic at various points in the set and played accordingly. "Behold the Priestess" was as excellent as always.
As Tauntaun was breaking down its gear, some odd electronic music accompanied by the sounds of percussion filled the air. Turns out the sounds were emanating from members of the Itchy-O Marching Band, who filed into wearing purple uniforms with gold trim. Some were clad in various ski masks and others in helmets.
As several of the members pounded on drums, others walked around with amplifiers strapped to their backs, playing sounds that supplemented the martial drumming going on. A lot of people probably had no idea what was going on, but Itchy-O sure did bring smiles to a lot of faces as the troupe performed a handful of songs in the area in front the stage while a banner carrier and a Chinese New Year dragon wandered around the room.
When Warlock Pinchers took the stage, King Scratchie asked the crowd if anyone had ever seen the Pinchers before, and then asked how many had seen the band the night before. When a number of people in the audience responded, he said something along the lines of, "Suckers. It's the same set." And it really was, but if anything, the Pinchers upped the ante somehow and put in one of the best rock shows in recent memory.
This time out, Scratchie was dressed like Charlie Brown -- a clear reference to a Pinchers lyric -- and the band's antics were even more outrageous, with Jerko the Clown spraying the crowd with silly string instead of blowing up phallic balloons. During "Curious George & The Anti-Christ," two people dressed as bananas came to the stage to dance around. Before "Island of the Misfit Toyboys," Scratchie called Erica Brown to the stage to lend her legendary voice to proceedings, which she did with incredible passion and humor.
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After the Kung Fu Mission interlude, Scratchie appeared on stage in a diaper, as he had the night before, but he pointed out that while last night's theme was "There Will Be Blood," motioning to the bandage adorning the top of his head, tonight's them would be "There May Be Blood." Fortunately, there wasn't, and Scratchie ultimately didn't need stitches for his wound. The crowd down front, albeit slightly smaller than that of the previous night, was far more crazy and violent during the "hits."
During one song, Scratchie crowd-surfed his way all the way to the back to the bar, where he grabbed himself a drink and then surfed all the way back to the stage. That sort of thing pretty much never happens at shows these days, but this crowd obliged the King with the respect he deserved. During the closer, K.C. came back to the stage with his red wig, but he left before the song was over and returned dressed like a really scary version of Lady Gaga, with a big blond wig and a midriff thing that was clearly a modified Josh Taylor's Friends Forever T-shirt.
Over the course of both shows, the level of visceral enthusiasm the Pinchers brought was inspiring on its own. But the fact that the guys proved that they had a real band and not just an immensely entertaining joke was even more impressive. This was no subpar, perfunctory reunion. Rather it was a revelation and an example of how a band can rise beyond being merely good to the rightful status of legends.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I've been wanting to see the Pinchers since seeing the video of "Where the Hell Is Crispin Glover?" in 1991. Random Detail: The Warlock Pinchers' USB includes four remastered albums, numerous images and a handful of videos. By the Way: K.C. K-Sum had something like a pentagram cut into his hair on the top of his head, visible only when he leaned forward and paused for any length of time.