It wasn’t the perfect night for a show. I had a spider bite on my eyelid that was growing evermore monster-ish, closing my eye into a swollen lump. But when I heard that Ecstatic Union was playing at Hotel Utah Saloon, my crazy eye and I couldn’t stay away. I gave the bouncer the prettiest smile I could manage under my mangled condition, grabbed a beer in the musty, yet charming bar, and listened patiently for a sign that the show was beginning downstairs.
I was lucky enough to know one of the artists in Ecstatic Union, who introduced me to the other bands – Kevin Nichols and Walrus (who won my personal title of best band name ever). I got kicked out from hanging backstage, because clearly, if my white rain boots didn’t give it away, I wasn’t a musician. Back with the plebeians in the regular bar area, I pet some corgis (yes, there were corgis in the bar) and watched two old men get aggressively, happily drunk. The crowd headed downstairs to the small stage, talking freely and expectedly.
When Kevin Nichols went on, the basement-like venue filled with long-haired folk. I rocked to the rock ‘n roll and tried desperately not to spill my beer on the cute keyboardist next to me (to be continued). Kevin Nichols is quite the performer. Confident, somewhat overbearing… and did I say confident? With a raccoon tail pinned to his guitar, he delivered a hypnotic show with fast-paced, almost frantic lyrics. At one point Nichols yelled, “That’s my fucking girlfriend on the drums! Suck on that.” I turned my attention to the small, blonde female drummer in the corner. Damn, could she play the drums. This group was perfect rock, the kind that gives you a comfortable case of whiplash.
Ecstatic Union was up next. This group has a fun and sort of innocent vibe when you first meet them. The music was upbeat and spread a contagious dancing fever through the crowd. The musicians themselves couldn’t help but smile, groove, and joke with one another throughout the entire performance. There was no hesitation from any of the band members, who were aware of just how cosmically awesome their somewhat rock, somewhat indie, somewhat psychedelic music was. People closed their eyes to focus. As for myself, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the aforementioned cute keyboardist, who also doubled up playing tambourine, and managed to put on a show even while sitting behind the keys. HMU Bradley!
Walrus closed the show with a naturally brilliant stage presence. The band members looked like the kind of guys you would want to hug, just because. Their musical buildups are somewhat anxiety-provoking, but in the good way… like the kind of anxiety that you have before going on a roller coaster, when you know something really good is about to happen. Their voices were haunting, like a whisper in your ear, telling you secrets you didn’t know you wanted to hear. At this point I felt that I had the hang of the show. It was rock. It was roll. It was everything in between and outside of genre constrictions. It was young, new, millenial goodness — minus trashy lyrics and too many synths. It even distracted me from my swollen eye. Well done.