For the second time this year, Crustacean Records took over the High Noon Saloon for a night of shooting footage for what will become the label's first DVD. The first recording was held on a warm night back in August, and featured performances Screamin' Cyn Cyn & The Pons, Ouija Radio, The Gusto, Droids Attack and Things Fall Apart. It was slightly chillier Saturday night as John Kruth, Drunk Drivers, Awesome Snakes, The Skintones and Mad Trucker Gone Mad took the stage for round two.
Perhaps it was the weather or the unusually early weekend start time, but the crowd was sparse as John Kruth and his Destructone Orchestra took the stage. Kruth had his own theory, though. "I know why there aren't many people here yet," he conjectured, "it's my breath."
Crustacean is usually known for being home to some of the area's heavier acts, so Kruth's gypsy flavored world music did seem to be a case of "one of these things is not like the others." Playing electric mandolin, as well as a an assortment of wind instruments, the flamboyant frontman played an entertaining, if perhaps a tad too long, opening set which featured many of the songs from his upcoming release Splitsville.
While Kruth's idealistic songs may not have been exactly what the audience was expecting, Eau Claire's Drunk Drivers may be the epitome of it. It seemed as if they drew the crowd in from nowhere as everyone gravitated toward the front of the club for one of their typically high energy sets. Lead singer Nathan Brelsford spent most of the set gripping the microphone with one hand while picking out a few notes on the Farfisa organ by his side with the other. The title track of their 2007 Crustacean release Model Citizen was especially ferocious as well as being addictively catchy.
It's probably safe to say that Indian Jones wasn't talking about Minneapolis duo Awesome Snakes when he said "I hate snakes." After all, you can hardly hate a band whose every song includes either the word "awesome" or "snakes." Tonight's set list included "Snakes are High" and "Awesome Party" after which Danny Snakes announced "there's gonna be an awesome party at [label co-owner] Jake Shut's house after the show."
The drum and bass combo definitely limits them, and makes them slightly less interesting than the White Stripes -- to which any male-female two-piece is bound to be compared. I wasn't the only one who wondered how much better they would sound with a guitar.
The Skintones have become a four piece since the last time I saw them, and rhythm guitarist Travis Kasperbauer fills in their sound nicely. He will also be taking on the production duties for the band's fourth Crustacean release, which they will start recording next year. While I often found it difficult to figure out exactly what they were singing about, "Don't Do It" about global warming with its chorus of "Don't do it, don't, don't do it" was instantly ingratiating, and I heard a number of people still singing it well after the end of their set. In fact, it is still stuck in my head.
Mad Trucker Gone Mad and its distinctive brand of psychobilly were regulars on the Madison music scene throughout the latter half of the '90s. The group broke up in 2001, only to reappear last year. Lead singer Isaac Schulze is the only original member; he is currently backed by Chris Langkamp on bass and Dave Meuhlbauer on drums. Schulze seems to have missed most of what happened during the band's hiatus, repeatedly calling the High Noon "O'Cayz Corral" He explained that in his heart "this is not the High Noon Saloon, it will always be O'Cayz," adding an exclamatory "supersized!" to the end of his statement.
Even though I hadn't seen them since their return I was surprised by how many songs I knew, they started the set with "I'm a Whore," "Robot Monkey," and their signature tune "Mad Trucker Gone Mad," while the swaggering boogie "Zoom! Zoom!" came near the end of their set. After ascertaining that no one in the dwindling, yet still enthusiastic crowd, cared that he was "fucked up," Schulze powered through several more songs before finishing up close to bar time. Most of his profanity laden banter had to do with drinking and partying, at both of which he still seems to be an expert.
It is hard to say which performance best captured the spirit of the label, but there's no doubt that the DVD will accurately represent their indie spirit. There's a sneak peek of a Ouija Radio song available now from Hinckley Design, and more are promised on YouTube by Crustacean. The release is slated for release in July 2008 and I think it is safe to predict that the release party will be every bit as fun as the two shows that went into it.