After opening sets by locals the Electric Blankets and the Resonars, Sub Pop's King Tuff, aka Kyle Thomas, slayed the hipster-heavy packed house with miniature rock 'n' roll masterpieces.
While each song felt momentary, they weaved themselves into one long piece of music that played as pure rock 'n' roll transcendence. Each song upped the ante of the last, and audience members followed suit, dancing and screaming themselves into a frenzy. There was no climax: Thomas' entire set was an elongated peak.
As with King Tuff's stylistic brethren, sort-of-local-boys Harlem, this was garage rock from a child's perspective: all helium-inhaling vocals and reverent discovery. Also as with Harlem, this take on the original punk rock was historically incorrect but revelatory and self-aware.
If Thomas offered absolute rock 'n' roll perfection, the Resonars were a much more complicated affair, and left the biggest impact on the evening. Precise, well-rehearsed and coming on the heels of their first shows in more than 15 years, the Resonars were treated as returning hometown heroes. They took the stage roaring, crafting three-minute nuggets made of Pete Townshend's shards of feedback, Keith Moon's crashing waves of drum rolls and John Lennon's picking hand, completed by Merseybeat harmonies.
However, this was not mere '60s nostalgia: This was '90s nostalgia, in stark, bold contrast to both the Electric Blankets and King Tuff. This was the sound of Tucson's Class of '95 indie-rock scene being validated as historically relevant and capable of seismic impact. The Resonars' classmates were well-represented, with members of erstwhile '90s local upstarts the Weird Lovemakers, Los Federales and others scattered across the floor. Hell, even Isaac Reyes of punk-rockers Swing Ding Amigos (and, currently, Lenguas Largas and Shark Pants) was onstage playing rhythm guitar.
The punk-rock prom aspect, with the Resonars unintentionally playing house band at this formal, did threaten to derail the considerable excitement of their music, but somehow, they walked each song home, sweaty palm in sweaty palm. And by the time the Resonars completed a triumphant set, those who missed them the first time were converts—and those who didn't were vindicated.