CCR Headcleaner - live at the Hemlock Tavern
CCR Headcleaner live at Hemlock Tavern, Sept. 19th, 2013. Photo by Chris Anderson.

I’d seen CCR Headcleaner several times before, usually an entertaining mess of fucked-up rock racket that emerged from the ashes of a Georgia band I liked called Long Legged Woman. But at their Hemlock show opening for Human Eye back in September, CCR somehow transmuted themselves from an unevenly good local band into a marauding gang of Scanners-style head-exploder telepaths and delivered a defining, transcendent, next-level performance. CCR’s hypnotic and malevolent psychedelia wasn’t faux-fun party-psych or disingenuously mellow Zen Center nature psych—it was more of a Jim Thompson’s “Killer Inside Me” psych with elective self-surgery K-hole romps and post hate-fuck cuddle balladry. The band was possessed, the room was juiced, the audience transfixed. At points, CCR’s set was suffused with a prosaic evil vibe that reminded me of the Rembrandt Pussyhorse/Locust Abortion-era Butthole Surfers live shows. Musically, CCR are way different than the Buttholes—I’m referring more to the air of all-pervading cathartic menace. Shortly afterwards, CCR went with Fuzz on a national tour (huge props to Fuzz for that act of public service) and I caught them a month later at Death By Audio in Brooklyn. They were in top road shape, which only underscored how special that show with Human Eye had been.

My list of the other local bands at the top of the 2013 live game: Hot Lunch, Life Stinks, Carlton Melton, Tony Molina, Quaaludes, Scraper, Swiftumz, and Violent Change. And my top three favorite local standup comedians of the year were Caitlin Gill, Sean Keane, and Jesse Elias.

Tony Molina and Swiftumz at Benders
Top of the Pops: Tony Molina and Swiftumz at Bender’s, Dec. 7th, 2013.

Anthony Bedard is the live music booker for the Hemlock Tavern and plays in the bands Icky Boyfriends and Hank IV.