Concert review: Pujol (with Dad Jr. and Diarrhea Planet) punk out at Off Broadway, Sunday, January 27
St Louis’ Dad Jr. is not one for subtlety. It played a set wherein guitarists/singers Zack Sloan and Ray Kannenberg would leave stage for several songs and watch along with the crowd of 30 people. Once, Sloan bounded off the stage and flattened a bystander. He then whipped himself around like a toy helicopter in a tailspin before he stood in front of Kannenberg for the better half of the song. Kannenberg followed suit and jumped off stage for the last song.
During this chaos, crowd members moshed. One fan was knocked so hard he flew halfway across Off Broadway. He deftly managed to stay on his feet and ran back into the pit, laughing all the way.
Switching gears, Dad Jr.’s arrangements have a metal bent with a punk-rock consistence. Alternating errant, grandiose guitar solos from Sloan and Kannenberg slid over Lucz’s drums. Sloan and Kannenberg’s vocals were dichotomous in tone. When Sloan sings, “Pukin’ in the sink,” he sounds like he is. Kannenberg’s voice, in contrast, sounds fit for a punk band and matches Dad Jr.’s heavy compositions.
Both would shout indecipherable lyrics before they retreated to thrash mode. Lucz anchored the dog-whistle guitar lines by thumping the mess out of his kit. The disparity of pitch between the guitars and drums balanced the mix. Lucz’s regulated drum work thickened the band’s messy arrangements enough for consumption. Just when the music came together for the last song, Sloan dropped his pants to reveal navy-blue boxer-briefs. The burly guitarist left them at his ankles as he waddled back stage.
Diarrhea Planet has a name so ludicrous it belies its ridiculous talent. But maybe that’s the shtick: talent camouflaged by egregious choices. Members of the band soundchecked to Third Eye Blind’s “Never Let You Go” and “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by the Darkness before they encircled the snare drum and crashed into their first song. Lead singer/guitarist Jordan “Hodan” Dickie and guitarist Evan Bird raced to see who could melt the face off a fan first with their firecracker-fast fingers.
The Nashville, Tenn. band’s four guitarists snapped, plucked and brought Guns N’ Roses-style arrangements to the modern age. Every guitarist took a turn at lead vocals. They fit all this into a set that was barely half an hour long, playing the first half in under 10 minutes. Their minute-and-35-second jams are miniature stadium anthems. Propulsive and rowdy, they could soundtrack a night of debauchery with aplomb.
Dickie introduced “Raft Nasty” off “Loose Jewels” as “The Cartoon Song” for it was featured on MTV’s animated series, “Good Vibes.” It was a marquee number for the band. With all instruments ablaze, its live sound is more idiosyncratic in person. In particular, Dickie’s guitar lines showcase know-how finesse and bassist Mike Boyle’s knack for keeping up with the four guitarists breakneck fretwork.
When feedback did not mutilate Dickie’s between-song-banter, he was genuinely charming in a blatant, backhanded sense. Patrons would file in and he would look over and say with the enthusiasm of a game-show host, “You’re just in time!” He did this every time someone walked into Off Broadway (most of the crowd entered during Diarrhea Planet’s seventh and eighth song). Dickie made fun of one patron’s obnoxious laughter, miming her cackles with dying hyena barks. It was as cacophonous as her guffaws. His best line was a quip about an STL landmark. “St. Louis! Home of the City Museum! A great alternative for people from Champaign who want to drive three hours to go to a museum!” Despite St. Louis’ rampant city-pride, several fans covered their smiles with their palms. Funny is as funny does.
Diarrhea’s Planet’s Nashville brethren, Daniel Pujol, began his set with a brief introduction of his band, and an explanation: “This is the last time this set will be played. We start recording tomorrow!” He then plunged into “Too Safe” from “Ringo, Where Art Thou?” Produced by Jack White and released on White’s Third Man Records, Pujol complained of the lack of risk taken by youth — reasonable subject matter from two rock ‘n’ roll men. The crowd lindy-hopped and jigged. Pujol’s music is kinetic and flits from fast to faster. Like Speedy Gonzalez just off Adderall, “Butterflyknife” dashed into “Psychic Pain”; the band fed off the giddiness of the crowd.
St. Louisian Stewart Copeland (of King Arthur) thrashed on his tiny drumkit; his lankiness and blonde mop gave him the look of Lou Reed at his campiest. Pujol’s guitarist, who looked like Art Garfunkel during a Hawaiian vacation, soloed during “Psychic Pain” and stole Pujol’s thunder momentarily.
Members of Dad Jr. danced in the front row. Not a soul at Off Broadway stood still. Most bopped with the looseness of Mexican jumping beans, except those who pushed their way to the front. One fan karate-chopped with every downbeat, but most kept their heads down and danced with a feverish delusion.
Pujol ended with “Reverse Vampire,” only the 10th song of the set. The choir of fans disapproved. Pujol explained his decision: “We’ve been a band for, like, for weeks. This is the first full-time line-up I have had in a while. I promise when I come back we will have a longer set!” Another jubilant 10 songs to dance to would be ideal.