Miss Massive Snowflake, who usually performs as a four-piece rock band, was represented solely here by singer/guitarist Shane de Leon. The Portland, Ore.-based de Leon reduced rock 'n' roll to its basics: two or three chords, hip-shaking swagger and great songs. His affecting voice and abrasively fun playing distilled rock 'n' roll history, from Bo Diddley to the Buzzcocks and far beyond, to the essence that made you fall in love with it in the first place.
For a brief time between 1993 and 1997, Guns N' Roses was widely considered to be the joke they actually were. But after everybody's pleasure receptors were depleted by a half-decade of dirgey alt-rock, Axl Rose and his wayward band mates experienced some history revisionism worthy of Bobby Kennedy's role in the House of Un-American Activities. Guns N' Roses was all of a sudden the embodiment of all that was great in rock 'n' roll music.
Seattle duo Tacos! made good on this unfulfilled promise. By removing the excesses of GNR, while increasing the quotient of nastiness, Tacos!'s deconstruction of the seediness crucial to GNR's latter-day appeal was exhilarating and captivating. Tacos! was also exciting, about as dangerous as you can expect from a rock band these days, and you didn't even have to look at a guy wearing a fucking bucket. (Yes, I am aware that Buckethead wasn't in the original lineup, so save the hate mail for another time.)
Last fall, in a review of one of Hermanitos' first shows, I criticized what I perceived as a questionable emotional commitment to their music and "aimless faux-psychedelic jamming." Well, I was wrong and I'm not afraid to admit it. As far as jamming goes, there were no extended codas present, only tight, concise songs that left emotional commitment as a non-issue.
Hermanitos played fiery versions of songs from their excellent first EP, with a particularly stunning rendition of "Why Baby Why." Like the two bands that preceded them, Hermanitos understands the blind leap of faith that rock 'n' roll needs to be effective. Though Hermanitos' interpretation of this proved to be more emotionally moving than the other acts', everybody put raw passion above technical skills, and that's what mattered most.