Monday, May 14, 2012

CONCERT REVIEW: Quintron & Miss Pussycat w/ Cave and Catacombz (The Cactus Club, Milwaukee)

It's always a pleasure when Quintron & Miss Pussycat come to town. In addition to making some kick ass music, they seriously know how to put on a show. The New Orleans husband and wife duo seems incapable of phoning it in or keeping it simple, mixing up puppets, invented instruments, comedy and a whole lot of energy into one indescribably fun whole. On their own, they make for a memorable night out, but of course it's also a big bonus when there're some other good bands to fill out the bill, as was the case here.

I've covered local openers Catacombz several times in the past, and frankly I'm tired of writing nice things about them. It's all true of course, how they're spacey and loud and one of the best bands in the city, but it just gets tedious. I would try writing something bad about them, just for sport, but that sounds like a lot of work, and I don't like work.

Next up was Chicago's Cave, who've had a bit of a personnel shakeup with the recent departure of keys/synth player Rotten Milk. There's always been enough going on in Cave, so many dense, intricate layers, that the remaining parts still make for a totally rocking whole, but they do sound a bit less cosmic without Milk's serenely psychedelic overtones. His absence subtly shifts the focus to Rex McMurry's juggernaut drumming and the guitar attack, leading them to sound slightly more like shredding proto-metal than their classic psych (big leap, I know).

Then the lights went out and it was time for Miss Pussycat's puppet theatre. If you think you're too cool for a puppet show, then you've never seen a puppet show this cool. It's all so perfectly pitched: the skilled but charmingly DIY aesthetic, the splashes of Day-Glo color, and the mind-melting Adult Swim-style humor. This time out, she's performing the story of a plucky bear who goes to space in search of a planet him and his buddy can party on. It's great, my only complaint being that it's too short, but the end of that segment just gives way to the Mr. Quintron portion of the evening.  Banging out jumpy, rollicking dance rock on a Hammond Organ tricked out to look like the front end of a classic car, and flanked by his homemade drum machines, he creates a ruckus that sounds a bit like the B-52's only with more sweat and more sleaze.

After a satisfying run of great tunes, including such highlights as an extended, funky freakout on "Place Unknown" from 2003's Are You Ready for an Organ Solo?, technical problems cut the set a bit short, but if people wandered away lamenting the abrupt ending, no one had anything but praise for what had come before it. Hopefully they'll be making it back to Milwaukee before too long, and if they are coming to a theatre near you, do yourself a favor and go experience the spectacle for yourself.

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