Naomi Punk was one of the bands I was most excited for on Friday. I didn’t know too much about them, but I’d heard their lo-fi garage rock on their MySpace page, was thoroughly impressed, and couldn’t wait to see what they would be like live. While their sound was there, the rest of their live show threw me for a loop. When I arrived, I was one of about only ten people loosely huddled in front of the stage and the band looked and played like a timid group of middle schoolers that hadn’t left their parents’ garage. The singer/guitarist faced the other band members as he sang, not the audience, and the other guitarist was almost comically emotionless as he played. Despite their lack of live experience, their sound was killer. The instrumentation was rudimentary, raw, echo-y, and washed out — and all in a good way. It’s exciting to know that this was the first show of their first national tour, because once this band gets their live chops down and gets more comfortable on stage, they are going to be something special. Definitely check out the songs on their MySpace and become familiar.
After a bit of meandering I found my way into Neumos to check out Fences. Fences play sweetly sentimental, heartfelt indie rock with beautiful cascading melodies. Though sombre and reserved on stage, tattooed singer and guitarist Christopher Mansfield is the perfect frontman for this band. When I made my way up front he was just finishing a song and quickly said “Sorry, I’m scared shitless for some reason.” It didn’t show though. His songs were simple, sincere, and told a story. A keyboardist added simple single-noted accentuations that kept the songs afloat, eventually picking up an electric guitar to add some substance to some of the more unhinged, rockier songs, with which they finished out the set. Thumbs up for Fences.
From Fences I moved on to the Bean Room at Caffe Vita, where KEXP was set up, to see Ravenna Woods play a few songs before moving back over to Neumos for Unnatural Helpers. The most appropriate way to describe Unnatural Helpers live is that they fucking rock. Neumos was as loud as I’ve heard it when I walked in to them finishing one of their first songs, after which frontman, drummer, and vocalist Dean Whitmore thanked us for “choosing brand Unnatrual Helpers over some other brand of band.” You’re welcome. They continued to play a furiously energetic set composed short sub-two-minute rapid fire songs, often times playing three or four in a row without so much as taking a breath. The entire band’s energy was off the charts. Heads were bobbing, sweat was flying, and lights were flashing as they rocked the hell out of their instruments as Whitmore, his drum kit front and center, yelled his lungs out and banged away. Thumbs way up for Unnatural Helpers.