I came to an Undisclosed Cavernous Area (let’s call it U.C.A from here out) on Saturday in the greater Bay Area with the promise of two things. First, that I would see an array of garage and surf punk bands for free -- and second, that I would be going to something possibly illegal, which is fairly punk, as well.
The setting was, as mentioned, a fairly damp U.C. A. The stage was to be determined by the bands that played. Powered by a generator and dimly lit with a couple of clamp lamps, the show boasted dozens of people gathered close to hear the bands and to (literally) be kept in the light.
The first band up was Primitive Hearts, a garage-pop band from Oakland. Airing on the side of Ramones-worship, the trio cranked through its set playing selections from its latest full length released this year, High and Tight. Throwing a bunch of glow sticks into the audience, Primitive Hearts set the party-like atmosphere of the show.
Up next was Pinkslime, yet another band from Oakland via Portland, Ore. (definitely a trend for this show). The duo served up good and sludgy surf-punk. Some songs were similar to Thee Oh Sees with buckling riffs, and vocals that take a backseat to said riffs. Either way, the audience ate it up, and things got a little rowdy with a few po-goers. Unfortunately, this was Pinkslime’s last show for the next few months.
Lunch, which is a messy garage pop-punk band from Portland, pretty much killed it. The touring group, hot off the release of its newest full length cassette, Quinn Touched The Sun on Resurrection Records, ripped through its set, ending with a cover of “Skulls” by the Misfits.
Last was San Francisco’s Sweat Lodge, self-described “pow wow punk”. With overwhelming bass lines, sleepy vocals, and fits of thrashy-ness, Sweat Lodge draws from psych, punk, and garage rock influences.
The nature of the band, loud and sloppy, was greatly reflected in the U.C.A. The singer beckoned people to get as close as possible to the group. But this caused problems. The vocalist darted in and out of the audience, every which way, falling and leaning into the crowd-goers pinned against craggy walls.
In a turn of events, he fell and knocked over Lunch’s sound equipment, possibly damaging it irreparably (according to one member from Lunch). Though he apologized, the atmosphere in the U.C.A was tense as Sweat Lodge cranked out its last few songs.
But still, I commend Sweat Lodge for taking the no boundaries approach -- it brought everybody closer in an actual and sentimental sense, and ended the show on an interesting note.
All the folks that played that night were solid, and all had one thing in common: they were all people of the punk ilk trying to jam in a U.C.A.
Also of note: On August 3, Sweat Lodge is playing with Nobunny and The Shrills at El Rio in San Francisco for $8. The show starts at 10 p.m. and is 21+.