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Popfuji With Starcrawler, Death Valley Girls, Mike Watt And Slaughterhouse At Brouwerij West, Saturday May 11th 2019

Starcrawler

 

The first Popfuji of the season looked very good and the event was filled with very familiar faces. Besides the young opening band Slaughterhouse, I had already seen Mike Watt, Death Valley Girls and Starcrawler plenty of times to say the least, but it felt like a family affair or a friendly reunion, and this is  what the West Brouwerij probably wanted, a nice evening in a beer garden with an outdoor space for kids and food trucks all around. So why not adding music to this already great atmosphere? And why not punk rock music? This was the theme of the night, plus it was Mike Watt’s home, and it didn’t take very long for the San Pedro guy to acknowledge it.

The young quartet Slaughterhouse wanted to install terror and chaos with menacing guitars, rattling drumming and frontgirl Gaby Ramirez screaming way beyond her young age. The music had undeniably dark tones and they were exploring a somber side with the aggression of hardcore combined with new waves textures, a bit like the Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees invaded by a new tide of San Pedro juvenile angst. Naturally adopting the right punk moves, they launched a few assaults which were resonating with a grating bass and Ramirez’ triumphant howls.

Mike Watt was announced with the Jom & Terry show, some true local legends with a set filled with unexpected detours directed by Watt’s jazzy bass solos, Tom Watson’s fuzzed-out guitar and Jerry Trebotic’s sweaty drumming. As usual, the entire set sounded like a full genius improvisations with Watt’s unpredictable vocals and impetuous growls, going from a low murmur to a series of outbursts of joyous rage. These 3 sonic sculptors were having a great time, all tongues-out and busy-hands on chords, they were jamming their hearts out with a bipolar attitude, speeding up on a song, then slowly wandering forever on the next one. Their free-style punk-jazz with spoken words mixed with a working-class ethic – the flannel shirts are never a decoration – sounded raw and genuine, like a stream of consciousness and a sincere celebration of freedom.

Death Valley Girls had a few new songs but they started with their familiar ones and their scary boogie witchcraft. even when she was harmonizing with bassist Nikki Pickle’s own howl, Bonnie Bloomgarden’s shrill vocals were a reign of terror, enveloping the Brouwerij around a dark psychedelic cloud. Their voices were piercing the haze of Larry Schemel’s rousing guitar, and more than ever, their tempestuous songs sounded like an invitation to a war declaration, raising hell in all the corners of the underground and unknown, going beyond the rainbows with a series of guitar duels before a spooky keyboard entered the picture. With crazy makeups and the devil’s eye watching above, these Death Valley Girls continue to stir the fire with restless energy.

Then Starcrawler and their manic number continued to put the Brouwerij upside down, with their rowdy brand of ’70s-’80s-infused rock ‘n’ roll filled by a cartoonish terror and combined with spectacular effects. Henri Cash’s outlaw guitar was biting the dust at each riff, the dirty and powerful rhythm section (Austin Smith and Tim Franco) was roaring in the background, and of course, frontgirl Arrow deWilde, who always competes with Henri for the spotlight, was the center of everyone’s attention. As usual, they were quick at installing their own chaos, with energy running very high, thanks to Henri’s faster-than-light moves and mutant-tall Arrow’s freaked-out antics. At each enormous guitar riff, she was holding her mic as if she wanted to go on a stabbing spree, while her thin and long body got out of my frame each time I wanted to shoot in her direction, head, arms, legs stretching in all directions. They played it dirty, riffy, beasty, trashy, gritty, bluesy, heavy, agitated like a punk rock resurrection led by a spider alien from Mars, who was taking a frog position ready to leap and spit human blood at the crowd’s face. They played the beloved Starcrawler songs, ‘Ants’, ‘I Love LA’, ‘What I Want’, ‘Pussy Tower’…  and but also a few new songs and a Ramones cover (‘Pet Sematary’) that they have recorded for the new movie of the same name. Starcrawler have actually just started a giant tour in the US and Europe (with The Distillers then with Beck and Cage the Elephant) so these kids are obviously on the right path, sharing their awe vision of bloody rock ‘n’ roll in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Two kids got the chance to get on stage, one invited by Bonnie of Death Valley Girls, the second one invited by Henri to play guitar with him at the end of Starcrawler’s set, and it was just a cute reminder that, despite the mayhem, it was a real family show.

Starcrawler

Slaughterhouse

Mike Watt

Death Valley Girls

Starcrawler

Slaughterhouse

Mike Watt

Death Valley Girls

Starcrawler

Slaughterhouse

Mike Watt

Death Valley Girls

Starcrawler

Slaughterhouse

Mike Watt

Death Valley Girls

Starcrawler

Slaughterhouse

Mike Watt

Death Valley Girls

Starcrawler

Slaughterhouse

Mike Watt

Death Valley Girls

Starcrawler

Slaughterhouse

Mike Watt

Death Valley Girls

Starcrawler

Starcrawler

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