Show Report: Hot Car Baby, Chingaso, & Sunland at Bar Bar
Published: Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 22:10
When you go to see a show at Bar Bar, there are certain things you can expect: There will be at least one guy there with a mullet. The drinks will be made with cheap liquor, but stiff. A bum will make the rounds and ask everybody for change. And it will be loud. Really loud.
Saturday's show was no deviation from that formula—particularly not the loudness. Sadly, I missed Doo Crowder's opening set, but I got there in time for Chingaso's, which was audible from roughly a block away.
Chingaso plays pretty straight-forward sludge metal with more than a little Metallica influence, from the blues-based riff structures (nothing avant-garde here) to the chugging guitar lines, right down to the singer's James Hetfield impression—although the group's best song built on a Rage Against the Machine-era Tom Morello-sounding riff and took it in some unexpected directions. Overall, it was a solid, well-executed set with some thoroughly satisfying shredding, courtesy of the band's lead guitarist.
Sunland took it in a more psychedelic direction. The first song was all noise, with an accessible bass and drum line, but mostly just distorted screaming on top. The noisiness got toned down, but the band basically stuck to a formula of taking a riff and fiddling with it—and some of the grooves were downright danceable. As the set went on, Sunland seemed to get more comfortable onstage—its sound coalesced, and by the end, I was won over.
Hot Car Baby of Lexington, Kentucky, was by far the weirdest band of the night, but was also the most poppy. The band came on stage in what appeared to be druid robes, with the singer sporting a panda-bear hat. The opening number started off with a tone repeated for about two minutes, which made me think it was going to be some post-rock drone metal kind of thing, but then transitioned from there to a scale-based riff that reminded me of the more metal side of King Crimson.
Structure-wise, the band's songs were all over the map. One song employed a vibraphone and a chanted vocal line that sounded like the Violent Femmes. Another was all Tom Waits, a debt the band's singer acknowledged by announcing, "That was a Tom Waits song; he just never wrote it."
Hot Car Baby's songs were consistently ambitious and interesting. It was a shame that much of the crowd had trickled out before Hot Car Baby's set, which started at 1 a.m.—they missed out. For the ones that stuck around, though, Hot Car Baby made it worth the wait.