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Neon Reverb report: A Slovenly night at the Bunkhouse

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Acid Baby Jesus, performing at the Bunkhouse Thursday night.
Photo: Maegan Gindi
Leslie Ventura

Slovenly Recordings might just be my new favorite label.

If you weren’t at the Bunkhouse Thursday night—and chances are, you weren’t—you probably missed the best non-local rock acts of this week’s entire Neon Reverb festival. Judging by the turnout, I’m assuming most people didn’t know much about the bands playing, but sometimes you’ve got to wing it to find the best music. And isn’t that what music festivals are all about?

When I got to the Bunkhouse around 11 p.m., I also knew little about the bands, except that they’re all signed to Slovenly Recordings, a small but epic punk label whose roster also includes “Bazooka” Joe Almeida from Las Vegas. And that most of them weren’t from the states.

Throughout the night, a meager 20 to 30 bodies walked in and out, but a real “crowd” never materialized like it should have. We’re talking several hours of loud, take-no-prisoners punk.

Lead singer Javier Garrote of Los Vigilantes (Puerto Rico) screamed onstage in a cape and black boxer-briefs. His frightening facial expressions reminded me of Robert DeNiro after a stroke. Between fellating the mic stand and mooning the crowd, Garrote was like a rabid dog, howling at the audience as his band jammed out some of the best new old-school punk I’ve heard in a long time.

Next, Las Ardillas, also from Puerto Rico, took the stage. They were even louder, and sang in Spanish, so I’m not sure what was being sung. But that doesn’t matter. The music was fast, fun and chaotic, and those who did show up were dancing and rocking out.

Around 1 a.m., Bunkhouse sound engineer Noel Calizo informed me that Canada’s Hellshovel had canceled. I would have liked to see the psychedelic garage rockers, but it was getting late, and I was ready for the headliners: Acid Baby Jesus, all the way from Athens, Greece. Their first song was a whirling dervish of crashing cymbals, dizzying synthesizers and corrosive guitars. These guys were dark, their garage-y, psychedelic punk tiptoeing a metal line. It was a distinct change from the, dare I say?, joyful, carefree tunes from moments before, but also a good transition to end the night.

Of course, if it takes two guys to screw in a light bulb, it takes one drunk douchebag to ruin a show. Just a few songs into the set, after a scuffle by the stage, Acid Baby Jesus frontman Noda signaled to the rest of the band to cut it after one more number. But don’t worry, that band will be back to play the Bunkhouse on April 1. See ya there.

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