King's Horses: Album Release @ Cactus Club

Tue Mar 29 2011

The Cactus chronicles continue: not consciously trying to set some kind of record, but why mess with a good thing?  This week featured one of the most eclectic lineups in recent memory, not always successful but as usual, at least one amazing performance.

As soon as I walked in in the middle of Owner Operator’s set, I was bummed I’d missed the first half of it.  This was ostensibly a one-off reunion while drummer Thom Geibel happened to be in town, and it turned out to be a perfect warm-up for King’s Horses.  The band performed with abandon, often tongue in cheek but aggressive and tight, pretty much the exact opposite of the tossed-off, dispassionate reunion cliché.  Of course, it had only been a year…maybe this is only a “second hiatus”…

What can you infer about a band that calls itself Zombie Chickens From Outer Space?  A name like that can only work if the band rates a 1.0 or lower on the orthodox scale, and this band plays the most digestible, mealy stoner rock you can imagine, so really I think a name change is the first order of business.  You can worry about doing something to set your music apart later, because right now you’re living up to the low expectations set by your awful band name.

Terrior Bute effected a complete turnaround in terms of awesomeness.  What are these guys doing when they’re not playing music?  Because I’m pretty sure they’re better at performing than they are at whatever else it is that they do.  It’s the most immediate, least detached synth-based pop music out there, in your face and in your booty.  If I were a band, I would NEVER agree to follow Terrior Bute; it’d be nearly impossible to top this level of freaky energy.

Tough obstacle for King’s Horses to battle; they decided, as usual, to fight back with noise.  The band’s live shows are always belligerently distorted and cranked to 11 in an attempt to decimate the pop sensibilities hiding in the songs, and tonight was no different.  It was the brand-new Polis front to back following one introductory oldie, and the imposing wall of feedback and other electronic sounds was fantastically powerful, but the performance wasn’t going to win over any curious rock and roll thrill-seekers.  I suppose KH can hide from their songwriting prowess as long as they wish, but as much as I enjoyed their set, a more focused, less antagonistic approach would probably turn more heads.  Allowing people to hear your melodies isn’t necessarily selling out.  All the same, kudos on providing a very different experience than just listening to the album.  Just having KH in action is a major win for Milwaukee.
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