Okay, I’ll admit it. As much as I like my bearded bards of folk music and hipster heroes of indie rock, my heart will always more or less belong to the lo-fi garage rock scene. I live for the fuzzed-out noise, the relentless guitars, the almost impossible to understand vocals. If I could do nothing but go to crowded warehouse shows of this variety for the rest of my life, I would probably be the happiest person on the planet. Give me your unbearably tight black jeans, your whiskey drinkers, your crappy black hair dye.
Basically, give me shows like the one Chicago band Disappears played on June 17th at Kung Fu Necktie, my venue drug of choice, with Austin trio Woven Bones and Philadelphia locals Far-Out Fangtooth. I wasn’t even planning to write this review, but I feel like it would be a public disservice not to after how incredible the night turned out to be. Turnout was modest, thanks to a Pissed Jeans concert around the corner and Game 7 of whatever everyone’s pretending to care about this week, but that didn’t seem to matter to the bands at all. Every. Single. One. KILLED. IT. See the excessive punctuation? See the capital letters? Yeah. That good. It’s really quite difficult to communicate just how much so without the frantic gestures I’m currently making at my computer. Use your imagination.
Far-Out Fangtooth is one of those bands that does garage with a hint of rockabilly, something that you might not initially notice by listening to their recordings on MySpace. Even the way the four of them were dressed highlighted their distinctive sound. One guitarist sported jet-black hair, a ripped jean jacket, tight jeans, black boots. The other wore a simple white shirt-blue jean combo and had the look of pre-fame Kings of Leon. Their female bassist was tiny and punkish, but also quite sweet, and spent most of the set sitting quietly off to the side. On drums was perhaps the most interestingly dressed guy of the bunch, wearing a shaman-poncho looking thing with complete normalcy. For their first show at KFN, Fangtooth were loud, confident, and unabashedly proud of what they were doing. Everyone noticed, too. Fun fact – they stuck around after the show for weekly resident DJ gig Night Train to spin a set, which they started out with Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” Yep.
Cue a quick set change to Woven Bones, a band with two permanent members (Andy and Matty) and an occasionally rotating drummer (for this tour, an awesome girl named Carolyn) based out of the SXSW hub of Texas. For three relatively diminutive individuals, they come together as a band onstage with some of the best and most intense garage rock I’ve heard in ages. Throughout their entire half-hour set, the people in the crowd were going crazy, head banging and awkward thrashing and everything. The sound was so great that even when I had to duck upstairs to handle some paperwork for settling after the show, I could hear it perfectly and continue to tap my own foot along to the beat. Afterward, I had a chance to hang out with singer/guitarist Andy, and the first thing he asked was if people seemed to enjoy themselves during their set. That’s easily the mark of an artist you want to keep an eye on, the ones who genuinely care about their craft and wonder if people are having fun or just blowing smoke up their ass.
Headlining band Disappears everyone already expected to be incredible, and I can say for sure that nobody was disappointed. Their sound is simultaneously erratic and controlled, all suppressed energy and raging guitar riffs tempered by echoing vocals. Again, they projected an incredible stage presence that I honestly would not have predicted from speaking with them both before and after the show. They’re an older band, mostly in their thirties, pretty reserved and genuinely nice people. It was fun to watch the transformation as they took the stage, picked up their instruments, and proceeded to blow the roof off KFN. I don’t really know how to add anything else. I keep wanting to return to the word “incredible,” which I’ve probably already used far too frequently in this review.
Whatever, though. That’s what this show was. It was incredible. It was as close to perfect as I’ve seen at the club so far. It was reverberations through my beer can and crappy amps and the smell of cigarette smoke drifting in from the back patio on a cool summer night. And I’m sorry to say it, but you’ll have to wait awhile before it happens again. The bands just passed through DC the night before, playing the backstage at the Black Cat while most people were probably upstairs staring at The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Next time, though, put on some eyeliner, mess up your hair, and give me a call. We’re going, and it’s going to be awesome.
-- Emily Simpson