The Underground Railroad to Candyland, Japanese Monsters, Shark Pants, Ultramaroon

Vaudeville Cabaret, Saturday, July 12

While Tucson cannot claim a homegrown band as influential as San Pedro, Calif.'s Minutemen, the two cities have both had a thriving music scene since the early '80s, sparked by a handful of sympathetic clubs and a cluster of neighborhood party houses. Both towns continue to be a popular destination for indie and punk bands looking for supportive audiences.

The DIY attitude is also represented with multiple local music labels in each city (San Pedro's Recess Records; our Mudhouse, Bloat, San Jacinto and Worry Dolls imprints). In fact, Recess is home to Tucson acts Swing Ding Amigos and Shark Pants, the latter of which performed last Saturday night with Recess label head Todd Congelliere's latest band, The Underground Railroad to Candyland.

Shark Pants opened with a tight, brief set that lingered long after they left. They make it look so easy, writing aggressive, catchy hooks, it begs the question: "Why isn't every punk band this good?"

Criminally underrated local duo Ultramaroon followed with their brand of bluesy punk, with a distorted bastardization of blues in the same vein of Tucson's Doo Rag. Listening to Ultramaroon, I imagined a drunken Bob radio listener at Club CrawlTM waxing to the duo on the importance of Foghat's cover of Willie Dixon's "I Just Wanna Make Love to You," and how the band would deliciously mock the gentleman.

Next up was Phoenix's Japanese Monsters, who sound very close to Shark Pants, mixed with a bit of our Knockout Pills (RIP). And more classic rock--JM's "Hot Pickle" lifts the main riff of the Guess Who's "American Woman."

Headliners URTC expand to a six-piece on tour, with an extra rhythm section and Joel Morales--from dios (malos)!--on keyboards. Musically, URTC take parts of early Who and British Invasion acts and crank it to 11. Their shout-along, drum-only choruses and grinding organ reminded me of '60s act the Monks, and the dynamic, costumed performance came close to '90s garage bands the Apemen and the Mummies.

The night ended in a Tucson-San Pedro love fest, with all celebrating Shark Pants bassist Vanessa's birthday, plus a rousing cover of New Order's "Age of Consent." Visit again soon, San Pedro!