Iron Chic, Low Culture, Lenguas Largas, Rumspringer Yucca Tap Room 3/14/14
Upon entering the Yucca Tap Room, the famous words of Shakespeare's Henry V always seem to come to mind: "Once more unto the breach dear friends." The legendary Tempe bar has seen its fair share of improbable mayhem, which always seems to bestow a pang of half-excited dread upon anyone who frequents the establishment.
That said, there really isn't a better spot to see an intimate bar show in the valley, which provided a well-deserved benefit to Long Island, New York's Iron Chic.
Tempe's Rumspringer opened the night up with the guaranteed explosion they've been delivering for over five years. Perhaps the most enduring band in the Phoenix "beard punk" scene, the trio of malcontents has trademarked their own brand of melodic yet gritty pop punk that is delivered live with a frenetic force that threatens to fly off the rails at any moment.
While referencing innovators like J Church and Hickey, the pop punk veterans deliver a sound all their own that stirred the crowd into drunken buddy-hugs. The belted duel vocals of guitarist, Wes Korte and bassist, Matt Dobbins had an arresting force, and as the set wound down the night was definitely heading in the right direction.
Lenguas Largas are a perplexing and truly original sextet from Tucson. They consist of four guitarists and a Siamese percussion section that shares a perplexing arrangement of drum equipment that's operated with unorthodox utilities such as timpani mallets and maracas. Musically the group defies almost all points of reference, sounding something along the lines of mutant garage rock that you could soundtrack a Spanish bullfight.
From the first song onwards they gripped the audience to the point that even the wrinkled barflies in the back booths were taking notice as front man Isaac Reyes wailed over the hypnotic canvas of "Endless Sands," and the subdued, yet driving "How A Man Should Live." No review can do a band like Lenguas Largas justice as they are truly a force that must be experienced -- the sound they harness somehow seems so distinctly Arizonian -- and anyone who has a tinge of reverence for the unique depth of our fair state's music scene is sure to appreciate it.
Las Cruces' Low Culture play a driving blend of garage-damaged pop punk that pays respect to fellow New Mexico greats Scared of Chaka while also incorporating the classic boozed soul of Gainesville style pop punk. Though the crowd had noticeably thinned a bit, the enthusiasm was still very present with plenty of fist pumping gang vocals, plus the spectacle of a linebacker-sized Islander sling-shoting P.B.R. equipped patrons across the dance floor. The set flowed by with relative consistency punctuated with sauced stage banter courtesy of guitarist and vocalist, Chris Mason.
There was a near palpable vibe of anticipation emanating from the crowd as Iron Chic was finally onstage tuning up. Noticeably exhausted and far from home it was later explained that they had run into trouble with having to navigate a major van breakdown. It's fair to say the audience was completely hammered at this point and a younger crowd had started to fill the blanks in the room, making it near elbow to elbow.
As the first song finally relieved the tension it was gang vocals and pogoing all around. Quite impressively, lead singer Jason Lubrano managed to drain an entire tall can within the confines of this kick off jam, sometimes eschewing vocal duties completely to give priority to the libation. Paying homage to the heartfelt anthem styling of Hot Water Music, the New Yorkers flew through track after track of eccentrically titled rippers such as "Cutsey Monster Man," that ironically possess the first line "I'm gonna smash my face into this goddamn radio."
Such is the modus operandi for Iron Chic's lyrical content, giving the impression that they have a sincere message but don't insist on taking it too seriously. The set was extensive and well coordinated, containing no noticeable inconsistencies start to finish. Certainly no fan was left wanting.
Bottom line: this was everything a great bar show is supposed to be. All killer, no filler and a guaranteed hangover in the morning. What more could you ask for?
Last Night: Iron Chic, Low Culture, Lenguas Largas, Rumspringer at Yucca Tap Room
The Crowd: Punks.
Best Bathroom Graffiti: "Whupi Puhpi Lives!"
Best Performances: Mark Beef of Lenguas Largas doing a two-riff solo intermission of a Fang song and Wes Korte doing a solo intermission of a Spice Girls song.
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