Live: The Cutters/The Mahas/Full Rainbow/The Examples

THE MINK — 2/17/2011: Facebook lies. That’s one of the main lessons I learned from the show a week or two ago at The Mink; I could swear the Facebook invite said the doors would be at 8PM, but when a friend and I rolled in at 8:30 or so, the Mink’s Backroom was locked up tight, and the only bands we saw (we found out later) turned out to be members of The Examples hanging out at the front bar.

But hey, this is Houston, where every show starts later than it’s supposed to, and it’s punk rock besides, so who gives a shit? We sat at the bar a while ’til they opened the back door, then meandered our way outside and around the back, where surprise openers The Examples were starting to set up — Something Fierce had originally been on the bill, but they’d dropped off, so The Examples, who were slated to play in the front bar of the Mink itself, got shifted upstairs on the “big” stage.

By the time the band started, there was a decent-sized crowd, especially for a busy Thursday night. Most of those in attendance seemed to be there primarily for The Examples themselves, unfortunately, and the bulk of the crowd vanished later on.

After a handful of songs, the friend I dragged to the show wasn’t very impressed (he wasn’t alone; we’ll get to that later on), but I walked away surprised at how much I liked the band. The Examples played swampy-sounding, seriously bluesy garage-rock, like The White Stripes if they were from Baton Rouge and not Motor City, and I was won over by frontman Josh Blevins twisty blues-rawk riffs and yawping vocals. They’re a little on the sloppy side, sure, but honestly, I thought that only added to their Sonics-gone-South charms.

The biggest surprise of the night overall came next, when Kokomo, Indiana’s Full Rainow took the stage. They were definitely an odd fit with the more straight-ahead street/garage punks playing the rest of the evening, instead aiming squarely at old-school, SST-style hardcore with some headbanging stoner-metal parts thrown in for fun. I found myself thinking of Steel Pole Bathtub at points and Black Flag at others; the band plays heavy and loud as fuck, but there’re still some surprisingly great party-down melodies buried in there.

Beyond that, Full Rainbow was easily the most energetic band of the night — I couldn’t help but grin as bassist Mike lunged back and forth, snapping his head like he was rocking out at a long-gone Fugazi show, and guitarist Adam pounded away at his guitar hard enough he looked like he was about to break a string or three.

Unfortunately, the crowd was sparse for their set, possibly because of the mismatched bill; I suspect these guys would do well on a stage with somebody more like Muhammad Ali or Defending the Kingdom. Afterwards, I picked up a copy of the band’s latest 7″ (which I still need to listen to, sadly), and we chatted a bit with Mike about the show.

While talking, I noticed a stencil on his bass cabinet for a familiar-sounding band called The Sorely Trying Days; I couldn’t place it at the time, but looking back afterwards I realized that I’d had a CD by that band Survival Mode, come across my desk a year or two ago.

I didn’t think much of it, but after attempting to Google “Full Rainbow” for a full twenty minutes without getting directed to stuff about the ’70s metal band or that “full rainbow!” Youtube video, I realized that Full Rainbow and The Sorely Trying Days are actually the same band. Which could explain why some of Full Rainbow’s songs sounded weirdly familiar to me — depending on how much of the “old band”‘s stuff they still play, I may well have heard some of them before.

The Mahas came on next, and wow, what a difference a year or so makes. I’ve mentioned before that I wasn’t all that bowled over when I caught their set at last year’s Summerfest, but they more than made up for it the second time around. I can’t say whether it’s because the band’s tightened down their sound since then or were just having an off afternoon the last time, but whatever the reason, I’m glad to see how much they’ve improved.

Their sound this time was ultra-bassy and loud beyond belief, like the band was slinging around solid slabs of garage-punk noise and bashing them against one another — in fact, the bassiness made the sound so murky and thick, it was almost hard to listen to at times. If you could persevere, however, it was worth it, as the band cranked through a relatively brief set while scarcely saying a word.

It was great to hear “Dead of Night” and “Ghostshit” live, but of the three songs on the band’s one 7″ so far, “Fool” fared the best, with Scot Snot‘s trademark shredded-throat bellow and he and Tom Triplett‘s face-punching guitars turning it from a shrug-off into a ferocious fuck-you. Redemption — in the eyes of one hard-to-please writer, at least — is a beautiful thing.

And then, on came The Cutters, and things proceeded to get real weird real quick. Frontman Geo started off the band’s set by slagging off The Examples, saying something about one of the guys in the band having a prison tattoo when he’d never been to prison — I wasn’t staring at anybody’s ink during The Examples’ set and don’t know the band personally, so I can’t confirm or refute that — and he kept coming back to it each time there was a break in the music.

After a few songs, it went from “hah, that’s pretty entertaining” to “what the hell is going on?” Which is a shame, because when Geo wasn’t ranting about the other band (for reasons unknown to anybody watching), the band was pretty jaw-droppingly good. Admittedly, I’m biased, because I was a fan of Geo’s old band back in Washington, DC, The Points, and I could hear a serious resemblance to that band’s heavily Ramones-y take on punk.

Geo beat on his guitar and snarled, Joey Ramone-style, while fellow guitarist Jon (ex-Monocles/Guitars, now also of Davey Crockett) ripped through chords and riffs right alongside, organist Mark (also of Funboys and Cop Warmth) hammered away on the keys, bassist Dirty Jeff (Funboys/Muhammad Ali) head-bobbed off to the side, and drummer Bryan (Funboys/Talk Sick Brats) played like a twitchy, shirtless metronome at the back of the stage.

The sheer volume worked both for and against the band, in the end. My friend thought The Cutters were awful, saying that he couldn’t tell one song from another, and I’m tempted to chalk that up to not being able to actually hear the variations in each song. The rhythms were pretty similar throughout, but if you could look past that, the sound was shifting and moving in surprisingly subtle ways. It was like listening to a churning, unending wall of semi-melodic noise, and I mean that in a good way, believe it or not.

Then, towards the end of The Cutters’ set, something happened, and I’m still not entirely sure what. I looked down, and when I looked back up again, Geo wasn’t onstage — my friend said he saw him yelling at one of the folks from The Mink — even though the rest of the band was barreling onwards. Eventually, they all clattered to a finale, too, dropping instruments and walking off the stage.

Like I said, I’m still not sure what happened there at the end, but I was smiling, even still, as I wandered back out to the car a short while later. The show may not have made sense, all together, but it didn’t really need to. Maybe lesson #2 is really the same: it’s punk rock; who gives a shit? END

(Photos: The Examples; Full Rainbow; The Mahas; The Cutters. All photos by J. Hart. Full set up here.)


Live review by . Live review posted Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011. Filed under Features, Live Reviews.

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2 Responses to “Live: The Cutters/The Mahas/Full Rainbow/The Examples”

  1. CUTTERS on March 17th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    CUTTERS CD NOW AVAILABLE THROUGH DISCHORD RECORDS

    http://www.dischord.com/release/sht33/st

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: Weird Party + The Mahas + Dex Romweber Duo (MP3!) + Woozyhelmet + Cancellations/Reschedulings + More on August 15th, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    […] tight and melodic beneath the loud, raw noise, and when I saw them play a while back at The Mink, they were one of the best things going that night. […]

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