Photos by Sue Sadzak
A long time ago, I did a silly online quiz, and the whole thing was prefaced with a simple request:
“Think of the moment in your life where you were most happy.”
Easy: it was in a dark, dingy club, listening to the Bloody Beetroots pump out the dirtiest beats I’d ever heard, slowly being crushed to death by the ravenous crowd. It was my second concert ever, and my first time experiencing musical euphoria (which, in hindsight, was almost certainly oxygen-deprivation-inspired).
That’s a dragon I’ve been chasing ever since. And while my bones are a bit creakier and getting crushed is slowly losing its lustre, there are some shows that still find ways to blow me away. This was one of those shows.
I’m no stranger to an Elwins show, and yet they still left me in awe. Fully decked out in Minion costumes for Halloween, these boys have clearly learned a thing or two about stage presence over the years. Rebel was the biggest venue I’d seen them at and they absolutely tore it up.
Lead singer Matthew Sweeney was on point like I’d never seen him before – incredibly relaxed and comfortable, belting tune after tune to the eager crowd. Feurd, now supporting a wicked beard in addition to his majestic mustache, was celebrating his birthday that evening, and so we all sang him a lovely happy birthday.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: these boys will be the next Arkells. Can’t wait for their next record.
The day after the show, I was talking to a coworker and they mentioned they’d never heard of USS. “What kind of music is it?” he asked, innocently.
How to explain USS? It’s like riding a train through a beautiful mountainside except everyone on the train is on cocaine, including you. It’s like if Bob Dylan did a collaboration with Skrillex. Have you ever seen that video of the honey badger fucking up snakes? USS is that honey badger’s pump-up music. USS is love. USS is life.
Here’s an idea for a campaign platform: a Human Kebab for every citizen, because Jason “Human Kebab” Parsons is an experience everyone deserves. He is the hype man to end all hype men. Between serving as a human mic stand and DJing while doing headstands, he is the man that is always there when you need him. He started out the night in a jacket sporting the phrase “LET’S GET WEIRD” and boy, did we ever. His stunts were endless, his energy boundless, and his elation palpable.
Of course, every good wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man needs it’s electrical fan anchor, and that anchor is lead singer and guitarist Ashley Buchholz (lost the metaphor a bit there, but you get the idea). The man is a machine all on his own, crushing song after song. He even got an opportunity to nervously show off his piano skills mid set, playing a solo version of “2 15/16” mixed in with Arkells’ “Knocking at the Door” and twenty one pilots’ “Stressed Out” – nervous because his mother was in the audience and had never heard him play piano before! Adorable.
Seeing a band play in their home city is always a treat, and doubly so when it’s for a halloween show. But there were no tricks at this concert – just pure, good, old-fashioned rock and roll – with a side of turntablism. As USS themselves put it to end their main set: “This is the best.”