Concert Reviews

Last Night: Punk Bunny, Rival Gang, Darktown Strutters and Pocket Change at Mable Peabody's

Gay Prom Bloodbath
Mable Peabody's in Denton
Friday, February 13, 2009

Better than: A Priscilla, Queen of the Desert movie marathon

Friday the 13th welcomes the truly bizarre, and Mable Peabody's Beauty Parlor and Chainsaw Repair in Denton was waiting open arms during last night's weirdo extravaganza, promoted as "Gay Prom Bloodbath" and featuring the touring band, Punk Bunny.

I'm sure you're already confused. First off, Mable's is a gay nightclub--Denton's one and only--and the "Bloodbath" was the venue's first concert since the club's March 2007 fire.

But to call this event a "concert" is probably a small stretch; calling it a "concert" would imply some semblance of cohesion.

It was more of a theme party for which not everyone got the memo. Or not everyone got the same memo, as the theme seemed to change with each set.

Things were off to a painfully slow start as Pocket Change, the first of four bands, took the "stage"--a section of the dance floor, designated only by a backdrop of painted curtains--at 10:45 p.m.

Such a late start ensured a long night ahead. The angsty duo behind Pocket Change provided what seemed an uncomfortably intimate view of a teenage acid trip gone bad. The two scream into a shared mic over the sound of smoke sirens, as if wailing away on a karaoke mic in the upstairs bedroom of the house they just set on fire. An acid trip might explain their fashion choices, too: He was topless with his shirt tied around his neck, and she wore what lookes like a duct-tape headband with sea shell earmuffs.

"Meeermaaaid Sa-ooouunds," she might have sung, Bjork-like, if we could hear her lyrics over her partner's oppressive, mostly pre-recorded instrumentals. "Blurbububublulrb," she trills, as he moans through a foot-long tube. Suddenly inspired, he grabs a drum stick and begins to saw at an electric guitar. They operate in a world all their own, into which the audience is not invited.

Things picked up after 11 p.m., when local rock trio Rival Gang claimed the stage area. Their frenzied performance went down like a Jager Bomb, filling Mable's with cymbal crashes, spastic strumming and primal yells--all adding up to a contagious mania. It seemed an experiment in volume and stamina; how loud and fast can a person play while maintaining rhythm? As if in a constant state of one-upping, the three fueled each other past the physical limit of normal human beings.

Presumably due to the late start, the featured band became third in the line-up, an unfortunate swap for Darktown Strutters, who became lost in the afterglow. The Los Angeles-based Punk Bunny taught the crowd, among other things, three simple ways that a man can accessorize a see-through leotard. Lead singer "LUIGI," a.k.a. Gill Sandoval, donned cowboy boots and an open leather vest. The burly bass guitarist Andrew Burnett paired the leotard with tennis shoes, while dancer and vocalist Isaac "Blossom" Ledesma opted for close-toed heels.

Punk Bunny, started in 2003, follows the queer-oriented "electro-smut" trend of bands such as Peaches and Gay Pimp. LUIGI's vocals also sound eerily like Weird Al, sans the kid-friendly lyrics. With a focus on both visual and aural aesthetics, Punk Bunny must be seen live to be fully appreciated.

Accompanied by projected videos (in case you needed a refresher course on terms like "tea bagging", "glory hole" or "golden shower"), the three perform a seamless, totally choreographed routine. Think Rocky Horror meets Tina Turner. Everyone joined in on the debauchery.

Each band, digested separately, might have gone down like a rich slice of pie, but anyone with the perseverance to last through the entire show was undoubtedly bursting at the seams. The show, as a whole, was too much, too loud, and entirely too late, lasting until the bar's closing at 2 a.m.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
While I'm a sucker for both dirty lyrics and raunchy showmanship, Punk Bunny won't make it to my car stereo, unless I'm either in the Gayborhood or driving by Preston Hollow. I do get a feeling of wicked euphoria at the thought of "Push, push, in the bush" blaring as I pass George and Laura's gated cul de sac. But Punk Bunny is a bit of a one trick pony; once you've heard the first lyric or two of any given song, you've pretty much heard it all. If a band is going to go raunchy, it might as well go all the way. I'm still holding out for the Stephen Sondheim of smutty lyricists. Overload it. I want filth bleeding out of my ears by the end of track one.

Random Note: Last night's Friday the 13th show was a serendipitous occasion for Kara Jean and Wes Darrin. The two met on Friday the 13th, became roommates and later formed Darktown Strutters. Coincidence? I think not.

By the way: Nothing served in the kind of mini plastic cup you see at holiday parties--even when filled with a double Jack and Coke--should ever cost $10. But the $1 Jell-O shots floating around Mable's were friendly on the wallet as well as the taste buds.