The Cosmeticators at The Trunk Space, 6-30-11

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The Cosmeticators
The Trunk Space 
Thursday, June 30, 2011
After the loud 'n' proud punk rock show at Trunk Space last night, I'm starting to think there's a new trend of garage rockers writing songs about their pets. As we mentioned in this week's music feature on Phoenix trio The Cosmeticators, the band has songs about singer/bass player Chela's dogs. They played one, "Jerry," at the show last night, while Chela wore a hot pink T-shirt bearing that name and the image of her late Labrador.

Then later, raucous garage blues rockers The Vignettes played a couple songs about their cats, including one complete with yowling and meow-howls.

But I digress. What turned out to be a fun and fast night of blistering, sweaty rock 'n' roll started with locals Ray Reeves and the Masters of the Economy, a super tight trio consisting of Reeves on guitar and vocals, Andrew Jemsek (also of local "polka punk" band Haunted Cologne) on bass and backing vocals/shouting, and Matt Spastic (also of local punk rock band The Complainiacs) beating the shit out of the drums. 

While a strobe light constantly flickered around them, the trio kicked off their short set with a song that sounded like a fast-paced fusion of Dead Kennedys and System of a Down, followed by a jangly, lurching song with a fast chorus, and a magnificent cover of "CIA Man," by legendary local rock band Sun City Girls.

Before the song, Jemsek told the crowd, "If you don't know who they are, I feel sorry for you." Throughout the song, he furiously strummed his bass so fast his fingers were often just a blur. Spastic was red-faced and popping up and down in his seat with every beat of the snare. There was lots of shouting, cymbal crashes, and walls of feedback. Reeves played his guitar over-handed for a bit, and howled and screamed like the most bad ass punk bluesman since Jon Spencer. It was glorious.

The set ended with Reeves playing the drums along with a pre-recorded car alarm, while Spastic slowly disassembled the kit.

​Next up were The Cosmeticators, who set up half on stage (just Amy Young behind the drum kit and the bass and guitar amplifiers), and halfway on the floor below (where guitarist/vocalist Dee Moreno and bassist/vocalist Chela stood). Despite having short songs averaging less than three minutes each, they played the longest set of the night, barreling through 13 songs, with some fun banter in-between like these exchanges:

Chela: "We'll do anything you tell us to."

Moreno: "If you're a robot."
Chela: "And have money"

Moreno (after turning around to take a drink of water): "We're not supposed to turn our backs on the audience. Sorry about that."
Chela: "I don't care. They like looking at backsides."

The trio played fast and hard, but tight. They've added some new vocal harmonies to older songs like "Apple," and despite the tendency to sound monotone, the "60s girl-group harmony" idea comes across, and works well against the band's backdrops of raging, Ramones-ish four chords. There's not a lot of showing off from the players, but Moreno did crank out a pretty cool solo during their cover of The Mighty Caesars' "You Make Me Die."

After rocking through original tunes like "Vanna" (an ode to Vanna White), "Jerry" (the aforementioned love song to Chela's dog), and "Brand New Man" (where Chela sings about finding a man who "likes the dog" and "has a job"), the band closed their set with a cover of The Pleasure Seekers' "What a Way to Die."

The Vignettes (from Memphis, Tennessee) played next and were the last band we saw, and we were damn glad we stayed. These two gals (Francis Vignette on vocals/guitar and Freddi Vignette on drums) cranked out a super short but wildly loud and rocking set. Their songs sounded like gritty, swampy blues punk, topped with Francis' hair-raising screams and soulful wails -- somewhere between Gossip and early 80s punks Anti-Scrunti Faction. Watching Francis stomp around in cut-off jean shorts, playing her guitar behind her head and screaming "Do you know how I rock and roll?" while Frankie banged away diligently on the drums, rarely looking away and steady on her one cymbal, was invigorating. And as previously mentioned, a couple of their songs were about cats.

The Cosmeticators set list:

Heavy Metal
Double Man
Make Me Die
Brand New Man
What a Way to Die

Critic's Notebook:

Last night: The Cosmeticators at The Trunk Space

The crowd: Mostly friends of the bands or other downtown musicians, a mix of thirtysomething females in casual attire and a gamut of guys in T-shirts (and one in a long-sleeved plaid shirt).

Personal bias: One of my favorite downtown drinking holes, The Bikini Lounge, is next to The Trunk Space, so beers between sets are totally possible.

Overheard: "It's so dry here. How do you stand it?" (Francis Vignette to the crowd)

Random notebook dump: "Hot. Very hot."

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