You know it’s gonna be a good show when the sound guy tells you to take it down a notch three minutes into your set. Yeah, that’s how loud Never Young was to open The Bay Bridged-hosted Noise Pop Happy Hour event at Benders Friday night.
Things didn’t get any more mellow after the band’s set of blistering noise rock either, nor did I wish it to. I mean, something had to take my mind off the passing of Leonard Nimoy, and what better way to cope with superficial pop culture icon mourning than an evening full of garbled vocals, clanging guitars, and thumping drums? Life is oftentimes a blurry, crude, indistinguishable mess, and I like my music scene to reflect that fact. Or, to put it in a less drunkenly philosophical way, I just really like loud, aggressive music, and the event did not disappoint.
Aforementioned Never Young kicked off the show with their unique blend of grunge/punk/chaos. Imagine meeting Jesus Lizard in a dark alley (that is, darker than the one they already haunt) and you get a sense of their particularly menacing sound.
Stalls continued the trend with their sometimes droney, sometimes catchy punk-rock, their songs gripping you with the simplest of chord changes or simply no chord changes at all. Call it hypnotic, call it mesmerizing, call it one too many happy hour priced drinks, but you can’t call it boring.
Couches closed things out with a cocktail of dirty power-pop that sounded like Cheap Trick on Quaaludes or Pavement on uppers. Either way you get the point: Couches play a brand of garage rock neither too clean for the mainstream nor too filthy for the disaffected hipsters, but somehow find a way to appeal to that in-between audience. They may not be as melodic as the Ramones or as incendiary as the Clash, but the slacker-charm they exude fits perfectly on a soundtrack for my generation of distracted and existentially distressed millennials. When their singer/guitarist claims, “We’re broke as fuck!” halfway through the set you know they’re telling the truth because you’re broke as fuck too. Or at least I’m broke as fuck. So what I’m trying to say is buy their merch because this band needs to stick around, and we need a band to sing about our broke-ass, directionless existence.