Concert review: Bug Chaser, Volcanoes, Ou Où and Jack Buck go crazy (folks!) at Bad Dog Bar and Grill, Friday, September 28
To use a couple phrases lifted from the Buck’s Wikipedia page: “I don’t believe what I just saw!” “Go crazy folks, go crazy!” and “Pardon me while I stand up to applaud.”
Jack Buck gnarled out riff-heavy, technically meandering licks in the vein of Converge or Dillinger Escape Plan. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a band of this particular leaning, and it reminded me why I was ever into the sound at all. More musically intelligent than primal hardcore and metal bands but still maintaining that intensity underneath their shells, the band broke out viscerally searing jam after jam. Breakdowns were performed with a get-in-get-out mentality — none of that tough-guy-posing, ridiculously-drawn-out shit a lot of the more mainstream metal kids are playing these days. Plus, the band totes a pretty sick wood-carved case for its first 7″ record on the merch table.
Fresh off a show with Moon Duo at the Firebird the night before, Ou Où brought the emphasis on song structure down while bringing the eeriness level way up. I’ve had the chance to catch them live before, but this night the duo invited a burlesque-esque dancer on stage — clearly for the purpose of tripping me out. The dancer bizarrely wandered about, getting lost in staring at the lights, just as the crowd was similarly getting lost in the hypnotic layers of the sound. Patrick Weston twisted and twirled knobs behind his two-tiered equipment stand as Travis Bursik punched and pulsed samples and beats from his wooden electronic pulpit.
Both members shared looping duties with a vast arsenal of electronic goods, weaving a continuous tune. Watching Weston and Bursik reminded of 1950s footage of scientists pulling and patching chords in those huge, room-size IBM computers. Alternatively abrasive and gloomy, Ou Où fit right in with the overall heaviness of the night — despite being the only electronic act.
Floor stomping, catchy and gut-wrenchingly heavy, Volcanoes injected a dancy element into the showcase. Abandoning the former mid-set instrument switch the duo of Jon Ryan and Eric Peters were known for in the past actually helped make their performance that much more cohesive. Meaty bass riffs and intensely tight drumming have helped the group climb to the top of the St. Louis scene, perched to break out nationally.
Gleefully tearing through explosive ’80s punk grooves, Volcanoes have shown why their press buzz is well founded. Peters also made a point to dedicate a song to St. Louis couple Graham Matthews and Stephen Houldsworth, recently awarded Best Fans by the Riverfront Times. The duo was faithfully in attendance to document the incredible energy of the night.
Two words about the venue: It ruled. I ate an awesome veggie burger out of a dog dish, and by the time I returned to the bar for my fifth whiskey and coke, the bartender was already pouring. I hadn’t been to — or even heard of — the Bad Dog Grill prior to this show, but after the warm response the gay bar gave to the group of heavy rockers who showed up for the night, I’ll definitely be going back for another show soon. While the room for the venue was a bit larger than I’d initially prefer, the huge turnout and the low stage gave the show a great ambiance.
Late into the night, the eight-legged (or member-ed) giant that is Bug Chaser took to the stage. Well, most of the band did at least — the vocalist spent most of his time in front of the stage in the crowd, hyperactively moving about the room. The two drums kits gave the band’s sound a towering presence akin to a grizzly bear — hairy and looking for blood.
With plenty of rock ‘n’ roll piss and vinegar spirit to give, the band rollicked through psychedelia-tinged punk. Bug Chaser is like a barely contained chemical spill, seeping its brand of genre-crossing into every dirty crack of the streets of St. Louis. With a new kind of aggression communicated through rock ‘n’ roll, the band entranced me to the point where I lost track of the individual musicians and simply Bug Chaser as an entity. I did mention I had at least five whiskey and cokes though, right?