The Urinals, Far Corners, Man Hands, Button Struggler, Mr. Atomm's Bombs Double Nickels Collective 2/22/14
In the sterile fluorescent light of Tempe's Double Nickels Collective, a crowd of about 50 congregated with the shared intention of seeing Southern California's legendary punk trio The Urinals Saturday night. It was a tight squeeze, as is common with in-store shows, but the constrictions of the bins and display shelves made for an intimate setting spatially, which is ideal for this class of entertainment.
The night kicked off with a set from Trunk Space favorites Mr. Atomms Bombs. The trio of ambitious young bucks cranked out 15 minutes of spastic punk rippers. The guitar stylization borrowed heavily from Thurston Moore and was backed by somewhat flimsy, disengaged drumming. The vocal burden was shared by all three members and ranged from flat mumbling to incomprehensible shrills. While not entirely cohesive, the performance was spirited and set a good tone for the evening.
Button Struggler took the floor next and delivered a stampede of garage punk tirades. Comparable to a much less meticulous Marked Men, Button Struggler could easily fall into the lineup of a Killed by Death compilation but somehow manages to lean toward pop punk as well. It was a good set but not the most memorable of the night.
Rounding off the local support was Man Hands, a longstanding outfit fronted by Jackie Cruz, who also organized the show with Eastside Records owner Mike Pawlicki. Comparable to bands such as The Wipers but possessing more modern sheen: Man Hands flew through a hefty set of upbeat, garage-damaged punk rock led by Cruz's powerfully belted melodies and gruff accents.
The real surprise treat of the night was Las Cruces' Far Corners. Wielding a broad and well-studied sphere of influences, Far Corners manages to produce a unique blend of post punk that's genuinely hard to pin down. At any one time you can detect elements of Gang of Four and Wire to inspirations as far afield as Nation of Ulysses. Their song structuring was tidy, and the instrumentation was precise down to the feedback durations -- very impressive all around.
The crowd inflated noticeably as The Urinals finally blasted off. From the first song onward, they really denied all reference points. At times they stayed near the Dangerhouse Records style of punk that birthed them, but continuously proved that they had long eschewed the sort of purposefully unpracticed aesthetic from their earlier years. Their set was a shape shifter drifting from popish anthems to avant-garde garage rock. They even managed to slip in a 13th Floor Elevators cover as part of their encore.
From top to bottom, the show was well rounded and catered to a broad audience. A great way to spend a Saturday night in Tempe, and well worth the five spot entry fee.
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