A year and a half ago, I was crossing the street to avoid walking on the same sidewalk that another human being, and honestly, at this point, we all thought that punk shows were a thing of the past. I am talking about punk shows where everyone is crushed to the stage, with a person’s elbow in the face and shoes flying above heads, while half of the room is occupied by a giant mosh pit and security guards are trying to stop people from jumping from the stage. A state of chaos that completely ignores social distancing and lets you forget we are still dealing with a pandemic. That was nevertheless the case last night at the Lodge Room, during a show headlined by Brooklyn punk band Surfbort. However, there was simply no rest during the entire night with memorable performances by Shamon Cassette, the Freakees, and Niis.
The energy went crescendo, although it was already pretty high during the second act, the Freakees, but in this type of show, the public is undeniably part of the game. When the two frontwomen (Dani Miller of Surfbort and Mimi SanDoe of Niis) joined their efforts for several songs, the only reason I was standing on the side of the stage and not in the middle was that I wanted to stay alive!
It started a bit early (before 9 pm) with Shamon Cassette, a hip hop act with an amazing and colorful vibe. They somewhat seemed to be more than your average hip-hop band, with an origin in Kanagawa Japan (where Shamon grew up) and outfits that could have embraced different cultures – the mask that the frontman wore after a few songs looked like a reinvented Afro-Samurai helmet with devil’s horns. They had some positive and fun energy on stage, with a rather old school rap style, recorded backgrounds but a live rhythmic section, with drums and bass. Shamon Cassette’s exciting rhythms and dynamic dance were the perfect opening act for a punk show, and his neon colors and plain originality transformed his act into a fusion of genres, like a rave party with a punk attitude and a hip hop flow.
The Freakees were pure punk bliss, all scream, guitar distortion, dissonance, and thunderous drums, plus a frontman who seemed to have a nervous breakdown at each one of his chaotic dance moves. He was all action, all disarticulated body moves, while the band played fast, high-energy bullet-like short songs, starting an aggressive mosh pit. The kids in the audience were there for the mayhem and the fun of a good old punk show and it showed: eardrum-menacing riffs, maddening accelerations, chainsaw distortion, and face-melting garage punk, the complete recipe for a good time.
Then, it was girl time with 2 bands fronted by two impressive women who unapologetically commanded the stage from start to finish. Honestly, nobody could detach their eyes from Niis’ Mimi SanDoe, who looked like a sexy vamp with giant red hair – think some punk version of Barbarella or another comic heroine. She was restless and her performance was absolutely mesmerizing. The music, a blend of ‘80s punk and pure hardcore, seemed to be the perfect pretext for SanDoe’s blood-thirsty scream. She was a fury followed by her long red hair, producing the second chaos of the night, with more women involved this time. One of them pushed me so hard that I found myself two spots further, but it was for the best, how can you take photos in the middle of a frantic crowd? The band trashed the room with rage, SanDoe’s incendiary holler and visceral stage antics were all the attraction, and the crowd followed with a renewed energy. Dani Miller joined her on stage for ‘FU Boy’ and the rest was just a torrent of red hair, sonic attacks, sweat, stage crawling, and slaughtering energy. Sure, they didn’t invent punk, and I have seen Black Flag, TSOL or Bad Brains live, but it’s quite new to see a woman taking the lead role with such swagger and fevered energy.
Brooklyn band Surfbort didn’t need any room warm-up, but they rode the punk mega wave, adding another layer of energy and aggression. In comparison with SanDoe’s, Dani Miller’s act is wilder and on a crazier side of punk. She wears her multicolor hair like a punk clown and reveals a furry bikini – she was wearing the bottom over her pants – when she removes her oversized shirt that reads ‘Body by junk food.’ She looked like a demented but charismatic buffoon while the rest of the band (David Head, Alex Kilgore, Sean Powell) produced a blistering sound. Their garage punk was rowdy, channeling the ‘80s punk scene while bringing a raunchy and riotous answer to the current world’s most terrifying problems. Each song was a sonic assault while Miller’s constant interaction with the crowd was exhilarating and always confrontational: you could tell that everyone was magnetized and eager to touch her hands. She briefly surfed the crowd – the still-present pandemic may have tamed this part of the show quite a bit – and she was certainly restless the entire time, drenched in sweat, removing layers of her clothes and ending the show in black panties. With a moniker derived from a Beyonce lyric (a reference to a bathtub-based sex act) and a record deal with Julian Casablanca’s Cult Records, Surfbort and their chaos-inducing show made everyone very happy, overwhelmed with joy to be exact: everyone had a large smile while leaving the venue. Surfbort at the Lodge Room was a much-needed remedy after the pandemic, it was a love fest fueled by an overflow of adrenaline that had built up during these months of isolation, it was a celebration of human connection, powered by the electric presence of these two women, who destroyed the Lodge Room like two Californian wildfires.
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