Audacity (Photo: Alyssa Pereira)

Audacity (Photo: Alyssa Pereira)

The trek to the Hotel Utah Saloon is not an easy (or particularly safe) one. It’s deep inside SOMA and its foreboding location (and history) presupposes a gritty, raucous vibe. The stage room is tiny and has an antiquated loft, which patrons enter at their own risk. In other words, the Hotel Utah is made for garage punk.

Immediately after rolling into the Saloon, I ran into Audacity‘s Matt Schmalfeld. The shaggy blonde-maned frontman is exceptionally polite and a bit reserved—a quality he abandons onstage with his Los Angeles-based band. As he heads past the bar to prepare for the group’s set, I head into the high-ceilinged cave that is the Hotel’s stage room.

Hunters‘ Izzy Almeida, who had been circling the room, stops and sits on the bench next to me. Her mussed cotton candy hair hides her face but she’s sipping water anyway as bandmate Derek Watson tunes his guitar onstage a few feet away. There’s no announcement that the show is starting, and Hunters doesn’t really say much before their first riffs, following openers Caldecott. Soon enough though, people pack into the tiny space, and Almeida takes over the room.

She’s a forceful presence in a bleak room—pretty much the personification of a middle finger to Hayley Williams—and her combative vocals, especially on newer standout tracks like “Narcissist” from this year’s self-titled album, are engrossing.

Hunters (Photo: Alyssa Pereira)

Hunters (Photo: Alyssa Pereira)

Recent signees to Mom+Pop, Hunters have incredible stage presence and edginess while still being palatable enough for potential mainstream success—a combination tough to deliver. Almeida strutted about, hanging from the pillar in the middle of the small room and bouncing back and forth between Watson and bassist Thomas Martin as drummer Gregg Guiffre (who somehow became shirtless) drove the big sound forward.

Audacity took stage shortly after Hunters. By the time the band began, the room’s occupants were standing shoulder to shoulder, and I was pushed up onto the chair-pole situation Almeida had just been hanging from.

Audacity’s sound is straightforward, California punk. It’s a genre meant for diehard fans of that rumbling loudness—and with recent release Butter Knife, the quartet delivered serrating, grinding guitars and imposing lyrics with honed execution. With nine years of existence under their belt, Audacity knows what they’re doing. For fans searching for a turn away from overproduced punk-pop productions, their rollicking no-frills energy stayed true to their promise—a roaring expanse of sound and energy.