Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Show review: Fungi Girls, Slushy at Favorite Records

By Gene Wagendorf III 

Favorite Records continued their recent string of excellent free concerts on Sunday, this time with an afternoon show that served as a nice warm-up for the closing day of the Hozac Blackout Fest. More refreshing than air-conditioning, Slushy showed up armed with a sack full of two-minute garage pop ditties and a charming sense of humor. When singer/guitarist Chris Kramer suggested he'd rather dance than play guitar, I almost believed him. His smooth, day-at-the-beach delivery was washed in layers of echoes and fuzz, allowing it to blend seamlessly with the chugging bubblegum of Slushy's dual guitar bop. Drummer/guitarist Brent Zmrhal's stomping rhythms and wonky loops fattened up the otherwise light series of songs, which never got so weird that they lost their cotton candy grooves. Their back and forth, both musically and between songs, felt like watching two kids splash water at each other in a pool, but with drifting, lollipop solos and a healthy dose of distortion. If ever there was a band that should go back in time and play a show at Kiddieland, it's Slushy. Their sunny melodies and Kramer's soft, excited vocals almost require funnel cake and lemonade.

Fungi Girl (Photo: Favorite Records)
A little bit darker but no less fun, Fungi Girls mashed together bits of punk, surf and psychedelic rock, relying on brazen hooks and husky buildups to keep the positive vibes flowing. If Slushy was a day at the beach, Fungi Girls were the sweaty bonfire kegger that left the sand littered with smiling, passed out bodies and empty red silo cups. By far the loudest band of the afternoon, their brand of buzzing was less breezy and more swarm of bees. The group's southern heritage was obvious in a series of dirtier riffs, sounds that would've fit neatly on a paper plate next to coleslaw and fried chicken. Deryck Barrera's nimble bass playing kept the grunge grounded, leaving frontman Jacob Bruce free to hum and croon between licks. Startlingly loud and punchy compared to the lo-fi bounce of 2011's Some Easy Magic, Fungi Girls had me pissed I missed 'em at The Bottle on Saturday. Bruce's guitar gnarled on the band's magnetic, charging closer, leaving my ears ringing and my adrenaline fully pumped. All in all, a solid kickoff to summer.

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