As predicted in last week's column, the El Toro de la Muerte CD release party at Zodiac was the place to be on Friday, with performances by five bands, any of whom could hold their own as headliners at your favorite local venue. Unless of course your favorite local venue happens to be the World Arena or the Pikes Peak Center, in which case you'll have to settle for the likes of Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller.
El Toro obviously needs no introduction — or, if they do, you can click here and check out last week's cover story. Likewise, the Flumps and the Conjugal Visits are no strangers to readers of this column.
But there were also a couple of wild cards on the bill. Portland's Archeology, the token out-of-town act, turned out to be a lot more fiery than the band's folkish debut album, Memorial, might lead you to expect. Apart from a not-particularly-exciting cover of Johnny Cash's "Get Rhythm," they rose to the evening's insistent energy level with a set of driving originals filled with sharp, hooky refrains.
The other relatively unknown commodity was Cat Color, a new local band that's stayed well under the radar despite a serious word-of-mouth buzz. As of this writing, there was no trace of the band on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, SoundCloud or ReverbNation. All I found was a brief blog mention from Die Pop, the "lo-fi noise psych garage fuzz" label that's promising a cassette-only Cat Color release sometime this winter or spring.
Thing is, now that I've seen the group myself, they seem all the more mysterious and pretty much impossible to pigeonhole. While I'd heard the term math-rock applied to them, there was none of that genre's conspicuous showiness, even though standard verse-chorus-verse song structures were routinely abandoned or subverted. Instead, we got pummeling drums, two electric guitarists who took turns completing each other's fractured riffs, and a bassist/frontman whose vocals make Drive Like Jehu's sound mellifluous. Kinda great, actually.
Looking ahead to the weekend, there's a serious bout of the blues coming your way this Saturday, with two shows competing for your discretionary income. Seattle's Too Slim & the Taildraggers are at the Crystola, but loyal blues aficionados will turn out for Colorado Springs' own Big Jim Adam & John Stilwagen, who bring their seven-piece blues band to Stargazers. If you want to hear the duo's excellent new album, Tippy's Barn, done up right in a live setting, this is the band to do it. Guest trumpeter Jessie McGuire, formerly of Tower of Power, will also be sitting in with the band as well as playing an opening set of his own.
Meanwhile, Malakai frontman Chris Forsythe is getting ready to debut his "sludgy grindcore" side project Tree of Woe at the Black Sheep on Oct. 24. Chris talked to me about the new group after his performance at last month's Indy Music Awards Festival, where Malakai was prevented from achieving truly face-melting decibel levels. "Tree of Woe will make that sound like Hanson," he promised.
One last thing: This column will be on hiatus next week while I head back east to visit the folks and meet up with friends at the Wall Street protests. Hopefully none of us will get carted off to Rikers Island. But just in case, if anyone out there knows how to turn a plastic spork into a serviceable shiv, definitely let me know.