After spending some time in the Northwest--where I saw a hilarious gay rockabilly band and the best cover band I've ever seen (the drummer could play while wearing an alligator mask and holding a Grover stuffed animal in his mouth)--it was nice to come home and see some rock 'n' roll, Tucson-style, in the form of The Sweat Band, Anaheim's the Willowz, and local beatmeister Electroshockbox. Really, only in Tucson can you pay $3 for some ridiculous dance-funk, an amazing out-of-town band, and one of the more rocking local bands to grace the stages of downtown.
Electroshockbox, who played first, had some trouble getting the slowly-growing crowd to snap out of their heat-induced inertia, but after Tron D chastised the audience enough, things picked up energy. By the last song, he had girls on stage shaking their butts to his theremin and breakbeats.
Next on the bill was the Willowz, who draped the stage with their long hair and contradictory rock--contradictory in that they are young, but play like seasoned veterans. They play riff rock without riffs and snotty vocals without actually being snotty. They're also from Disneyland (they had enormous Mickey and Minnie dolls onstage) but have nothing of that Southern California drama to their music. Instead, they sound a bit like the Velvet Underground, except in key and they can play their instruments better. It makes perfect sense that their rhythm-oriented, '60s-style rock is garnering so much attention from the likes of bloggers and the guy who directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. They even ended their set with an all-out feedback jam, with lead singer/guitarist Richie James Follin holding his guitar in his mouth at one point. Viva hair rock.
Playing last was Tucson's own The Sweat Band. Perhaps out of jealousy, or cynicism, I wrote the trio off as a lackluster Sleater-Kinney rip-off band after seeing them open for the Sights. While I still think they sound like early Sleater-Kinney, with a bit of White Stripes thrown in, after seeing their set Saturday night, the "lackluster" thing has to go. The Sweat Band communicate on another level musically--their crunchy-warm guitars, cymbal-heavy drums and perfectly blended bass may sound a teeny bit derivative, but it's so well put-together, one can't help but be sucked in. Even playing the last slot, which somehow isn't cool anymore, they were energizing and deliciously loud, just like how we like it here in Tucson.