Review: Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion!, Jacques Le Coque, The Zookeepers, Polaroidz @ O’Brien’s Pub (7/5/13)

Bands: Beware The Dangers Of A Ghost Scorpion!, Jacques Le Coque, The Zookeepers, Polaroidz
Date: Friday, July 5, 2013
Venue: O’Brien’s Pub (Allston, MA)

Polaroidz – Alright, alright, alright, alright, it’s Polaroidz! Polaroidz were originally known as Polaroids until recently it was unearthed that another Polaroids (of most likely, significantly less importance) already exists. Aww shucks! Unless, this is some sort of sick trick the band is playing on all of us and I fell for it, looking increasingly foolish with each word I type. Hopefully, this is not the case…

Anywho, last time I saw them was at a packed basement show at the Wilder Zangcraft and it was pretty ethereal. Since then, the band has changed a little bit with not just the alleged subtraction of the letter s and the zany addition of the  letter z, they have also added a new guitarist named Al. Oh and I should have probably mentioned by now that Polaridz also consists of Hadden Stemp (who you may have seen as the skull crackin’ vocalist/guitarist for The New Highway Hymnal) on guitar and vocals and Tim Oxton on lead vocals and keyboards. Altogether, the trio create a dreamy, mellowy brand of pop music not too unfamiliar to most music fan’s ears. Wow, that was convoluted. What I mean to say is that Polaroidz have a strong sound that bears resemblance to various artists in the modern rock/pop landscape such as Interpol, The Editors, Handsome Furs, New Order, and one that I never conjured up but Glen points to – Beach House. I feel ya man.

Polaroidz have summery vibes, but not like Beach Boys or anything of that sort, but akin to you just broke up with your girlfriend, so now you spend all of your nights alone at the beach with a pair of headphones, a bottle of wine, and an old book by some author with a last name I cannot pronounce. When all is said and done, the music is evocative, a bit trippy, but above all powerful – especially in the vocals. Lend your ears to their fine tunes.

The Zookeepers – For the record, I have never understood pop punk. I like pop music. Scratch that I la la love pop music. And as far punk goes, if it’s in the traditions of old school garage, Ramones, Germs and anything with similar aesthetics, then I am typically a fan or at least a supporter. But, pop punk, with very few exceptions (Descendants and Wavves) I disdain. It’s strange, because separately I love those two words, but together they make me want to vomit bags of blood.

And so with that introduction in mind, The Zookeepers are of the pop punk variety. Here’s the twist, they’re actually pretty good and if I was a fan of this style of music, I’d say they were amazing. As far as sweaty, balls out passion and enthusiasm go, these dudes have it and they also have some solid songs to boot. Seriously though, for fans of pop punk and that kind of music, check these guys out because they ROCK. The members often switch up instruments, but unlike most other bands that do this, they don’t stop for a single moment, they keep the momentum while they do the switcheroo, creating a nice little sing a long in the process.

As far as comparisons go, I’m not the best guy for this, but I can think of a few artists that remind me of The Zookeepers or vice versa. Firstly (and admittedly the glasses are a factor) the only original pop punk band I love, Descendants, appear to be an influence, especially in the band’s speedy songs. Another influence is the hip, stylish electronica outfit, Head Automatica. Lastly, one that feels very close to home is the phenomenal, virtually unknown Memphis monster: The Barbaras!  Like this band (one of my all time favorites), Zookeepers have this gauche, “I don’t give a fuck,” nerdy attitude to them; at times just plain zany, but ultimately fun. Though it’s not exactly my bag, if you’re looking for a pop punk that will offer everything they got and more  and some strangeness on top for you and your lover to dance to, then The Zookeepers are your men.

Jacques Le Coque – Seeing Jacuqes Le Coque has held a spot on the KLYAM to do list for over a year now.  Coque (pronounced COCK) are on the same wavelength as KLYAM as far as punk slime goes. So, finally meeting these fine, upstanding gentlemen is a total pleasure. Pete Mazza (vocals/guitar), Jason Kyek (drums), RJ DeAngelis (lead guitar), and Brendan Toller (bass) are the four men that comprise Stamford, Connecticut’s hottest rock ‘n’ roll band. Though this is our first encounter with the dudes, we are able to reminisce of past shows that lie deep in our collective punk slime unconsciousness, such as Saralee and one particularly rambunctious Black Lips warehouse show in Brooklyn.  Can’t stress enough how great it is to come across some people that know their contemporary garage punk, and this quality totally comes through in Coque’s spirited rock ‘n’ roll.

Before the boys hit the mini O’Brien’s stage, Pete tells me that he is “ready to rock ‘n’ roll” and believe me it sounds significantly cooler in person than in print. And Pete and his brethren fully deliver – dishing out just what the doctor ordered – balls out garage punk slime with comparisons to Black Lips, Atlantic Thrills, and The Kinks (especially in Pete’s vocals, remind me of Ray Davies). It’s just fun, rowdy music, plain and simple.

Most of tonight’s set consists of brand spankin’ new material, tunes that are entirely fresh to my ruined ears. Tis a pleasure to hear these fine ass offerings, but I get the biggest boner when I can sing along and dance to some of my favorite Coque numbers such as “Sidewalk,” “Ain’t No Fun,” and the band’s catchiest ditty, “Grow Up,” a youthful, rebellious anthem I can identify with all too well for better or worse.

Of all the bands on this bill, Jacques Le Coque is the best and I’m really going to miss them. Until next time, I’ll just be rocking out to this beast:

Set – List:
“Dead & Gone”
“Just Last Night”
“Don’t Wanna Fight”
“Stay With Me”
“Ruler Of My Heart”
“Can’t Keep Away”
“Pass It Around”
“Grow Up”
“It’s Raining”
“Ain’t No Fun”

Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion! – Here’s a band that offered us one of the greatest live debuts of 2013, that is to say a KLYAM debut, having never seen or even heard of this all instrumental, horror surf punk machine until a key show this past January at the Great Scott. That performance was like a tornado hitting you with massive force and energy that I have rarely seen matched before or since, especially for a relatively unknown band. Needless to say, these disguised surf punks (and in particular a magnetic, tambourine playing gentleman) left a lasting impression on me.

Tonight’s performance is exciting and they reprise their roles as surf mad men on a mission to get the whole place moving and shaking. While, I can’t say that they are as successful in this endeavor as they were in my last experience at the Great Scott, they certainly unleash some gnarly, slimy sounds that stay true to the fun, relaxing, cool like vibes that often come with surf music, yet they are not afraid to veer off into weirder, more complex instrumental territory. So, yes it is fun and lively, but not as intense or as exhilarating as my initial experience, and I attribute this to two reasons:

1) O’Brien’s Pub is a small venue, optimistically speaking it is cozy and this works quite well for cozier bands like Fat History Month and Fat Creeps, among  several other local heavyweights  – but there is a bigness to BTDOAGS that simply is too giant for the cozy O’Brien’s space. Great Scott has a bigger stage and I think it lent itself to a higher quality performance from these mysterious men.

2) This time around the man playing tambourine is nowhere to be found OR somewhere in his musical journey he decided to pick up an instrument. In any situation, one of the most enjoyable features of that past Great Scott show was watching this one peculiar man bouncing around, on and off the stage, bashing away at a helpless tambourine and carrying a sign that read “Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion.” This doesn’t occur tonight, and I have to say I am a little bit disappointed. Then again, I  could see this tactic coming off as a gimmick to some, so who knows, maybe we’ll see it again, maybe not, I’ll keep my eye out for it anyway.

One last thing I would like to note is the strength of this music off the stage. Initially in January, I felt like these fellas were superior in the flesh, but after having listened to their music online, my appreciation for their musical  prowess has increased. Oddly, my notions are reversed – this time around I feel more flabbergasted by their work in the studio than being in the midst of a sweaty, steamy live performance. Nonetheless, I highly recommend you listen to their music on bandcamp  and go see them live. They are playing at Great Scott on Saturday, August 3 and word around the campfire is that a full length studio LP will be dropped upon us in the coming weeks. Don’t make yourself a stranger, check out these fine, talented gents right here:

Set – List
“Heads Will Roll”
“We Welcome The Living (But Only If They Come Here To Die)”
“Caught Dead”
“Texas Blood Money”
“Blood Drinkers”
“Black Crescent”
“Red River Tombstone Hustle”

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