Tonight: Agent Orange + Room 101’s Last (Houston) Hurrah + Benjamin Wesley + More

Talk about taking the good right along with the bad… I have to admit, the show tonight (Wednesday, June 30th) up at Röcbar sounds pretty damn awesome, even if it hurts a little at the same time.

The headliners this evening are none other than seminal SoCal surf-punks Agent Orange(!), who were one of the first (and probably the best, to be honest) bands to mash together four-chord snarling punk rawk with more noodly (yet still raw as hell) surf guitars, and they’re a long, long, longtime love of mine. Hell, I think “Bloodstains” may’ve been the first song I ever played/howled, way back in college when our little band played nothing but covers of songs we liked… If you haven’t heard 1981’s Living in Darkness, with the aforementioned classic song, the utterly paranoiac “Cry for Help in a World Gone Mad,” or the band’s amazing rendition of “Misirlou” (spelled “Miserlou” in the Darkness track listings), you’ve missed out, I swear.

The band’s followup effort, 1986’s This Is the Voice, is pretty great, too — it’s an album I desperately need to get as something other than the half-melted cassette I currently have, one of these days. Unfortunately, the songwriting dropped off a bit as the years went by, and I’m sad to say I’m merely “eh” on the band’s 1996 release, Virtually Indestructible, but I’ll gladly forgive ’em that considering what they’d done beforehand. And live, the band’s still very cool, even if frontman/guitarist Mike Palm is the only original member now left standing.

Better still, there’re some awesome locals opening, particularly Social D-esque Blackmarket Syndicate, about whom I’ve raved repeatedly in this here blog, and Dead to the World, about whom I’ve heard many, many good things.

The local “band” playing tonight that I really want to talk about, though, is Roburt Reynolds‘ one-man-band project Room 101. Reynolds informs SCR that he’s sadly not long for our sweaty, mosquito-infested environs, but will be moving following this show off to the similarly sweaty, mosquito-infested environs of New Orleans. (Just in time for a hurricane to hit, natch.) I’ve meant to check out Room 101 live for a while now, and since I can’t make it out tonight, I’m pretty bummed…

It’s especially sad because Reynolds is a genuinely oddball multi-instrumentalist and noisemaker whose take on noise-punk continually teeters on the line over into Unlistenable Land but somehow always manages to make it seem like there’s a real-live song buried in there somewhere. The music is skronking and scraping, with near-hysterical, Jello Biafra-ish vocals, swooping, jerking guitar lines with edges so sharp they make your favorite Rough Trade bands sound tame and bland, an astoundingly funky, Gang of Four-esque feel, and political sensibilities somewhere over in the anarchist realm. And yeah, it’s pretty damn mesmerizing.

Sorry to see you go, Mr. Reynolds; come back & visit soon?

Weirdly enough, tonight’s show over at Walter’s also features a one-man-band, albeit of a much more laid-back, chilled-out variety — Benjamin Wesley will be playing for free up in on Washington Ave., luring in all the club-going yuppies with his loopy, head-bobbing electro-soul-pop groove. And trust me, he’s damn good in his own right.

Whichever way you go, get on out — we’re Houstonians, dammit. We don’t let anything as pedestrian as a hurricane keep us in the house, do we? Nah.

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