Review: Mark Sultan, Future Spa, Headband, Squall @ Starlab (12/8/12)

Sultan Starlab
Bands: Mark Sultan/BBQ, Future Spa, Headband, Squall
Date: Saturday, December 8, 2012
Venue: Starlab (Somerville, MA)

Act I: Squall – Last time I heard this name was at a Mark Sultan show in Boston almost exactly a year ago tonight. Squall (along with The Sinbusters) opened for Sultan at the Magic Gallery last December. Twas a great show, here’s the review: and here’s a clip of Squall’s set: Alas, we actually missed Squall that night. Fortunately, this time around we arrive early and are able to catch all four bands on the bill. Squall plays first and it is a pleasant experience. Going into shows, I don’t anticipate anything from bands I have never seen before, other than that I hope I will like them of course. I was asked earlier in the evening that very question: “Do you predict what the bands will sound like before the show?” No, not at all. It is better that way. I like to get a sonic punch in the face from every new band I see.  I want that to be our little moment.  If I had sat around dreaming up the possible sounds of Squall, it would have less of an effect on me.  Anyway, the band is a three piece consisting of one dude on vocals and a “1970s electonics set up” to quote one attendee, another on guitar, and the last on drums. Together they create a cacophonous, deafening blast of noise pop that reminds me of Jesus and Mary Chain but with a Nick Cave/ Glenn Danzig combined beast on vocals. This performance is solid and I am intrigued by Squall, but tonight I can only hear hints of their talent as songwriters. I feel like if the sound is just a smidgen better than the songs would be more effective. Listen to their BandCamp, the songs are sick and even better than I imagined.

Set List: 

“No Life Here”
“The Vessel”
“Tiny Hammers”
“Black Marks”

Act II: Headband– Headband is a cool band that I’ve never ever come across in all my years on this planet. Which is funny because they have existed since I was in Kindergarten! But, I am pleased to have made their sonic acquaintance tonight. Speaking of the 90s, I definitely get a lot of 90s “indie rock” vibes, chiefly Pavement, Dinosaur Jr, and Sebadoh. I mean I’d be shocked if one didn’t. Headband even display that mellow, laid back demeanor often attributed to those bands or that style/era. The dudes casually switch instruments during their set, which is always fun. After the performance, I briefly chat with members Brad and Matt, solid dudes!

Act III: Future Spa–  Tonight’s host, D.J. Murray and crew kick it in Future Spa, a noisy, hardcore punk drenched out fit, fresh on the scene. D.J. feverishly belts out the vocals with the classiness of  G.G. Allin. Is it me or did I just hear Gibby Haynes. Nope, I’m not going insane, a clip of Ministry’s “Jesus Built My Hotrod” plays in the middle of their set, specifically the part with Gibby Haynes on guest vocals, y’all know the part! One of the last songs the band performs is a cover of KLYAM fave, No Age’s “Everybody’s Down.” I’m down, are you?

Act IV: Mark Sultan– Damn, KLYAM is four Mark Sultan shows deep. If you read this site, then you know Sultan has played a pivotal role in shaping our tastes in music with his various bands: Spaceshits,  Les Sexareenos, The King Khan & BBQ Show, and his solo work. I feel like if you enjoy any of these bands you would dig Mark Sultan/BBQ as is. It’s all straight up,  rock ‘n’ roll as it always has been. It is thrilling to see Sultan in a basement, to be so close to such pure,  rock ‘n’ roll. It’s crazy.  I almost feel vulnerable in a way. Here is rock ‘n’ roll as it should be done and despite unfortunate illness, this is the best set I have seen from Mark Sultan. As countless, including myself,  have stated before, the vocals are mesmerizing in general, but live is insane. As usual, classic after classic is unleashed – virtually all beloved songs during my youth. Yet, it’s really just like one giant song, one take. The War On Rock ‘n’ Roll. Honestly, that’s the best way to appreciate it. I recommend you see Mark Sultan live when he comes to your town.