Best Dog Award, Spanish Moss, The Distortionists, Ocean Void at Tucson Live Music Space, Monday, Nov. 12

Tucked in one of Tucson's "crack and prostitution" districts, the relatively new TLMS (Tucson Live Music Space) stands as an oasis, within the lineage of the original Skrappy's and the fabled Downtown Performance Center, as an all-ages venue where all types of musicians can be appreciated. Centered around headliners Spanish Moss, this show ended up being surprising in many ways.

Young shoegazers Ocean Void kicked things off with screaming, searing feedback that shook the tiny venue. (It looked exactly like the first show you saw in your buddy's living room.) Ocean Void played for 10 people as though the number was 10,000.

The prevailing trend in indie rock (marketing demographic: 20 to 35) is retro-garage and psychedelic rock. As Ocean Void continued through their gloriously noisy songs, it became apparent that this was the same thing. However, garage rock circa 2012 is influenced not by the Stones and the Kinks, but instead by My Bloody Valentine and Smashing Pumpkins. This realization made the show instantly more exciting, and more musically relevant.

These kids, unknowingly, are continuing to create rawer variations of their idols. That brought the Distortionists' middle-age garage hard-core punk, Dead Kennedys-style, into sharp focus, making it vital and current. The Distortionists also had the added bonus of a guest member, Max, the bass-player's infant son. Max screamed along with the songs, reinforced the friendly nature of the TLMS, and won the night's biggest applause.

Burger Records' bands have officially invaded Tucson, and one of the latest, Spanish Moss, whose Facebook page claims they are from Brooklyn and Santa Cruz, Calif. (?), bashed out their versions of late-1960s psychedelic proto-metal. What Spanish Moss may have lacked in imagination and originality, they made up for in sheer intensity.

Spanish Moss had the largest audience, but those who stuck around for local trio Best Dog Award were treated to some of the most creative, enthralling music that Tucson has laid claim to in many moons. Best Dog Award didn't play anything approaching garage rock from any era. They just unassumingly played their (perhaps) Stereolab-influenced songs—and shined.


More by Joshua Levine


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