Torrential rain couldn’t deter a dedicated crowd of fans from pouring into St. Louis’ Off Broadway Sunday night with the promise of local gems Carriage House and Bruiser Queen supporting PUJOL. It could, however, delay the headliner by over an hour. Fortunately, beer was in ample supply and the wait seemed more like catch up time with old friends, a full-bar pre-game.
Carriage House eventually kicked things off, with a lengthy set that ended up being an amorphous blend of hard rock, covers, experimental folk, and ridiculous stage antics by the frontman. His habit of singing two inches from an audience member’s face and the porn decorating their drum kit weren’t exactly appealing. Though, when they toned down the mood for a tribute song and stellar closer “Bad Dads”, which oddly channeled Modest Mouse vibes, their material sounded tight and promising — perhaps, an act to keep an eye on in the St. Louis scene.
Self-described “scuzz chunk rock n roll duo” Bruiser Queen shortly followed, a guitar/drums duo who managed to incorporate surprising amounts of melody in their punkish Karen O-meets-the-Pixies sound. The set ran through nearly all of the recently-released Swears, with Morgan Nusbaum’s vocals being the definite highlight of the show. From the sweet cooing during “I’m Yours” to the punk vigor in “Swears”, all atop Jason Potter’s frenetic drumming, the mellow crowd perked up considerably during the show, as Nusbaum demanded, and warranted, full attention. Her cutesy banter with the crowd, though in direct contradiction to her immense amount of attitude while singing, made the band all the more enjoyable, maybe even worthy of buying one of their imprinted canvas lunch totes. Maybe.
Nashville’s PUJOL took the stage around ten. Humbly introducing himself and his bandmates, Daniel Pujol launched straight into “Keeper of Atlantis”, as always facing bassist Daniel Severs with Stewart Copeland on drums at the rear. Though the live PUJOL show neglects the keys that added another dimension to the album’s tracks, the energy and sheer volume of the three-piece setup more than compensates. Anthemic single “DIY2K” received a rowdy greeting from the crowd, its cultural criticisms yelled with earnest enthusiasm.
Blasting through United States of Being‘s new highlights and hitting up the old staples “Mayday” and “Black Rabbit”, the deep-fried punks’ growling harmonies sounded sweeter, the grungy guitars were dirtier, and the characteristic long-winded, esoteric explanations of the upcoming tracks were even more entertaining than usual. Especially outlandish was “How High”‘s tales of doppelgangers in Wal-Mart parking lots and the subsequent paranoia and discovery. (Don’t worry, it was a little lost on us too.) Although it was clear everybody was enjoying the show, no one wanted to take the first step to make a dance pit on the blank space in front of the stage. Somebody finally took the plunge during would-be closer “Reverse Vampire”, which goaded the band into playing longer than they originally planned.
When it came time for the real closer, Pujol may have said the track wasn’t thoroughly practiced yet but would “still hopefully kick ass.” In typical PUJOL fashion, though, “Mission from God” was immaculate and his banter was awash in the characteristic modesty that makes his brand of catchy garage punk all the more likable and impressive.
Photography by Will Hawley.
Keeper of Atlantis
Dark Knight in Shining Armor
Mission From God