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Babyshaker, Zoroaster, Jucifer
The Star Bar
January 2006

It had been a while since I'd seen Jucifer. The last time was at Echo Lounge and they impressed me so much I ran out and bought all their CD's.

And hated 'em.

Sure, on the studio recordings you can understand some of the lyrics and the sound is mixed well. But I've pretty much decided I don't like a lot of their sound. Even though it had been a few years, I did remember being blown away by their live show. So when I didn't have anything planned for Saturday and degenerate SW was off with one of her gal pals, I called up CD and we headed down to the Star Bar.

As soon as I walked into the room I had to giggle. There was barely a spare square on the stage, due to the hulking wall of amps and speakers.

There was so much gear on stage I couldn't even capture it all on camera. It made for an impressive setting, if nothing else.

I hadn't seen the opening acts before so I didn't know what to expect. First up, Babyshaker from Charlotte, NC.

The lead singer looked like he'd raided the closet and makeup drawer of Green Day's Billy Joe Armstrong - not necessarily a bad thing, but he also looks a bit like Billy Joe, making it seem even more like an intentional imitation, at least visually.

Musically, I only barely remember these guys. No, I wasn't drinking heavily and it wasn't that long ago, they just weren't memorable. Heavy/hard stuff with a distinctly modern sound that leans heavily toward pop/punk. I gave them 4 or 5 songs before I fled to the downstairs bar to socialize.

Degenerate CD lasted through most or all of their set and came downstairs to chat. I mentioned that Babyshaker should probably open for Warm Gunns, since they have a similar style. CD noted that Babyshaker had covered  Patti Smith's Rock N Roll Nigger, as had the Warm Gunns when I saw them last.

"A lot o' people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch o' unconnected incidents 'n things. They don't realize that there's this, like, lattice o' coincidence that lays on top o' everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."
From the film Repo Man.

We chatted with random Star Bar regulars until we heard a sound check going on upstairs. The crowd had grown a bit and Zoroaster had added even more gear to the stage, my personal favorite being this ammo box full of electronics for the bassist.

They started things off with several minutes of distorted monotone feedback, while the three members just stood there swaying. After a while it actually made me giggle and I turned to CD, "It would be funny if this were the entire show."

But eventually they got into the meat of the matter.

Or "metal" of the matter.

Zoroaster do that sort of dark, heavy stuff that you sometimes hear on WREK late at night, or emanating from that machine that strips off the top layer of asphalt before they repave the highway. The vocals were growled in a monotone matching the grimy sounds coming from the guitars. The sound was so distorted that you could barely make out the notes. Degenerate CD fled to the basement three or four songs into it. I made it through another one or two (it was hard to tell one song from the next) before I joined him. There were a few hardcore fans along the front of the stage, one even chanting along with the lyrics (the band must post them somewhere because there's no way he learned a word of 'em from the live show.)

The drummer banged the hell out of the drum kit, providing the only discernible variation in sound. If you like stuff labeled "death metal", this is probably for you. As I worked my way around the back of the room I could hear a bit more of the vocal sounds, though still couldn't understand a word of it.
Kids these days...

Downstairs, local pinstripe artist extraordinaire Top Hat was working his magic on small cards for a few bucks a pop. I got a guestimate on doing some work on the Thunderbird. I just gotta save up the money for the body work and repaint first.

Back upstairs, Jucifer's drum kit was assembled, featuring a backstage pass to a Hillary Duff concert. At some point during the show the pass flipped over and written on the back was "Hold for Jucifer" with Hillary's signature.

The bar was playing NWA between the live acts, annoying degenerate CD. He complained that he was getting very bored and was going to split if he had to stand there for two more numbers of the drum-machine-backed rap.

Fortunately, Jucifer appeared.

They started out explosively, Amber's guitar a distorted keen but with all the variation Zoroaster lacked. Edgar attacking the drums. I asked CD if he was still bored and he shook his head.

Edgar plays drums as a man possessed. He thrashes around in the seat, one leg coming off the pedal of the high-hat and hovering above the floor as if it has a mind of it's own. His eyes roll back and his face shifts from rage to ecstasy. At any moment you expect his head to turn a full 360 and split pea soup to spew out into the crowd.

I know, I know, as a "reporter" I should make an effort to take better pictures, making sure to get a decent shot of both members in a two-piece band. Hell, at least use a flash so you could see what what happening, right?

But it was crowded as hell and I didn't want to lose my spot right in front of the drummer, so instead I focused on taking pictures that more closely match the style of the show, like this mess:

The down side of being close to the stage was the inability to hear Amber's thin, child-like vocals. They're creepy and contrast strangely against the roar coming from the wall of speakers behind them. At one point I worked my way to the back of the room and the sound quality was a hundred times better, but you couldn't see. And for me, watching Jucifer is perhaps more fun than listening to them. See for yourself in this video I shot with my little digital camera. Unfortunately, it's obvious the microphone on the camera couldn't handle the volume of the show, but you get an idea for what the show felt like.

As the show ended, Edgar thrashed around, kicking over portions of the drum kit. Somehow he ended up with a drum over his head which he used to bash into a symbol, to the delight of the crowd.

Then he scaled the Berlin wall of equipment and disappeared behind it.

It was still relatively early, but nobody seemed to think there was a chance of an encore after a set like that. Crap, I'm not sure my ears could've taken it anyhow and there's no way they could've topped themselves anyhow. So we trekked out into the cold night and headed home.

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