Monday, May 14, 2012

Show review: Quintron and Miss Pussycat at Empty Bottle, 5/12

By Andrew Hertzberg

The story of Quintron and Miss Pussycat runs deep. Far deeper than I knew going into the Empty Bottle Saturday night. The NOLA couple formerly called Chicago home – an extensive profile of their history was chronicled in the Reader a decade ago. The two have cultivated a following over the years and are always looking for and creating something bizarre and left-of-center. Quintron blares on his distorted Hammond keyboard with a natural Southern swagger, accompanied by his patented Drum Buddy. Miss Pussycat handles backing vocals, and oh yeah, did I mention she put on a puppet show to begin the set? The story of a grizzly bear that travels through outer space to defeat a vampire is a perilous one, but it must be told.

As for Quintron’s candle-lit set, it was much more energetic and amplified than I imagined after hearing recordings. My ears were ringing before the show was even over. Listening to last year’s Sucre du Sauvage (which was recorded in a 2010 New Orleans Museum of Art exhibit) isn’t by any means a tranquil experience, but Quintron gets intense live. Seated at a keyboard behind the grill of Lincoln, equipped with a crash cymbal and hi-hat, and the aforementioned self-designed drum machine, Quintron belts out his campy, R&B tinged “Swamp-Tech” that wouldn’t be out of place soundtracking a B horror film. Miss Pussycat helped out on vocals, sometimes with high-pitched yelps, sometimes more subdued and melodic, but ever so consistent with the maracas. I couldn’t help but think at times what a great collab this duo could make with the Fiery Furnaces. Can someone set that up please?

The night was sufficiently weird, and as Quintron puts it, he makes music for the weirdos and fags. If you associate yourself as either of those, definitely don’t miss the couple the next time they’re in town. It’s hard to imagine any two shows being alike. Succumbing to an unexpected and cold-related nap, I only caught half of Don’t’s set, but loved what I saw. The Pacific Northwest four-piece all come from other bands (The Wipers, Napalm Beach, Ladies of the Night among them) and recall plenty of first and second wave punk bands, primarily Vice Squad and lead singer Jenny Don’t’s Siouxsie channeling. Not sure the last time I actually saw a drum solo, but the one performed by Sam Henry was quite impressive, showing off his talent, without going into excess, and falling back into the rockabilly groove of "Impala."

Following them was Portland trio Pierced Arrows, led by Fred Cole, who’s been making music for nearly 50 years with various bands, Dead Moon probably being the most well-known of them. What’s most impressive about the group is that for people who have been making music for so long, none of them have considered attempting to perfect their craft. While sloppiness can have a certain endearing quality, you’d think over time these people would want to evolve a bit. Maybe it was just the contrast of playing after Don’t, who while certainly inspired by garage rock and punk, have the ability to play tight and melodic tunes, but Pierced Arrows just weren’t doing it for me. But as New City put it: “Fred Cole’s gotten over on emotion, not musical acuity during the last five decades, so it probably won’t matter much.” And cheers to him if he can make it another five decades on that.

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