Orange Sheila’s scheduled set was nixed by laryngitis. DJ Ladyfingers sandwiched her spins between sets by Rubiks Hotel and four impromptu solo numbers from Hungry Cloud’s Mike Weller (executed on a borrowed, sparkling blue guitar). But it was the first outing for Love Pentagon—vocalist Christina Z, guitarist Amanda Majestic, bassist Judi Brown, keyboardist Marites Vasquez and drummer Courtney Carroll—since a Neon Reverb appearance in March that drew a packed, active crowd to the Bunkhouse Saturday night.
Kicking off with opener “The Only Normal People Are the Ones You Don’t Know Well,” the psychedelic synth-pop quintet prompted a sea of arms waving in time to shanty-inspired “Overboard” (aka “The Pirate Song”), a flurry of fist pumps punctuating “People Who Expect Nothing Will Never Be Disappointed” and a collaboratively shrieked “Kuh Kah!” apex to the outro jam of “Mulberry Murder” extending into the titular track off 2007 album Bang! Even covers of The Make Up’s “I Am Pentagon” and The Misfits’ “She” were as well-received as fan favorite “Diamond 700 Minus Star.” Prior to closer “Dark Circus,” rowdy chants of “Five more songs!” giddily osmosed into “Five more shots!” “This is our last song, so dance!” Christina Z encouraged with a grin, though the pogoing mass required little additional prompting.
The Boxing Day performance was sparked by a hometown holiday visit from keyboardist and current Tempe, Arizona, resident Velasquez and precedes tentative 2010 activity, including a three-song digital release, sporadic Southwest tour dates and continued— albeit long-distance—songwriting. “We appreciated that people still came out to support us even though we didn’t really have anything new to play,” bassist Judi Brown enthused afterward. “I saw a lot of people I didn’t know singing the songs; that makes us feel that we should work hard at remaining a band, whereas a few months ago we were just kind of, ‘Eh, whatever.’ But now we’re re-energized … We’re still going to keep making music, even if it takes another shape.”
Addressing the permanent retirement of the group’s space-age superhero outfits and unicorn mascot, Dazzle, Brown added that the evening’s ensembles of sequined tops and colored spandex leggings marked another change in direction. “We’ve gotten to the point where our music speaks for itself. We don’t really have to use props. Instead of the full-on costumes, we have to make and maintain ourselves. Plus those ridiculous boots are not fun to play in at all. We’re just going to try to do something each time that’s coordinated. The superhero theme was so 2007.”