"Pinkish Black rocks my fetus" -- Elle Hurley
It's been a long time since we had a Transistor Tramps show in Funkytown. Lead singer Elle Hurley and guitarist/husband Richard Hurley have been busy creating more than music. In about 10 weeks, Elle will be giving birth to a little backup singer. Elle was on strict bed rest early in the pregnancy, but with an OK from the doctors, the Tramps were back on stage as the middle act in a three-act bill at the Cellar on Saturday.
Opening the show was Jason Kutchma, a North Carolina musician who bills his act as gospel punk with spurs. The spurs were used as a percussion instrument, while he stomped, played guitar and sang with commitment and enthusiasm. Toward the end of the concert, he fired up a contraption made from half of an accordion and a vacuum cleaner.
Not sure how big a fan I was of that one, but his guitar and vocals were heartfelt, and I enjoyed those greatly.
The Transistor Tramps were up next. In addition to the Hurleys, we had David Sebrind on synth, Brian Shaw on drums and Jamie Myers on bass and vocals. The band has a pretty unique sound for the area, kind of a post-punk, new wave thing. It was a great show as usual, though in light of Elle's pregnancy, we didn't get to see the usual gyrations and weird hand gestures for which she is famous. Still, the applause and cheering were thunderous. The Tramps should have no problem packing them in again after maternity leave.
The surreal sight of the seven-months-pregnant Elle commanding the stage, however, was not the evening's main event.
Instead, we had the industrial/synth/metal band Pinkish Black. The duo consists of Daron Beck (keyboard) and John Teague (drums) -- the surviving members of Great Tyrant. The band formed two days after the suicide of Great Tyrants bass player Tommy Atkins. Teague says that the band's songs are about "loss, humor, frustration, and finding humor in loss and frustration."
The first word that comes to mind after having seen this band two times in as many weeks is LOUD. Like Disaster Area loud. Pinkish Black played through a massive stage sound system, yet it tried to run the vocals through the house PA, which was quickly overwhelmed. Heavy synths and explosive drums filled the room; if your ears weren't ringing at the end of the show, you already had some hearing loss.
After the show, they made a failed attempt at convincing me that they were some sort of high-energy Dionne Warwick tribute band.
"I'm a huge pop, Dionne Warwick/Burt Bacharach fan, and I like to try to transmit that through [our music]," he said. "All the vocal melodies I hear in most prog or metal music, they just don't do anything. They have no hook, no catch, nothing that moves me at all. But you get Dionne Warwick singing a Burt Bacharach song -- there's a reason those songs were Number 1 on the charts."
Well, their songs don't exactly sound like Say a Little Prayer for Me, but it's definitely not your dreary, run-of-the-mill prog rock, either. The band will be releasing two previously recorded Great Tyrant albums this year, as well as working on a Pinkish Black offering this month. Do yourself a favor and check them out. Just wear some ear plugs or something -- don't worry, you'll still be able to hear them just fine.