Chula Vista’s Tar Pit opened the show, and credit to the band’s lead singer for trying to open the lack of an actual pit. The members looked young, and were probably used to more youthful crowds showing more enthusiasm. The 21+ audience present in the room were literally fossilized in place on the floor lacking movement, and may as well have been standing in an actual tar pit.
The vocalist took to the floor, circling around in her own little bubble while her three band-mates remained onstage playing their instruments. Clearly displaying the live stage presence and front person showmanship of a hardcore band, she belted the vocals and commanded the microphone commanded, with the rest of the band playing raw guitar chords and riffs accompanied by repetitive drumming reminiscent of The Ramones. Their set sped by just as quickly as it began, either because they were new and didn’t have many songs, or because each song felt under 2 minutes in length.
Memphis, Tennessee female quartet NOTS, signed to Southern garage-genre staple Goner Records (notable for releases with acts like the late Jay Reatard), headlined. I expected a raw quality to their brand of rock, and sure enough, distorted noise emanated from their instruments and permeated the small venue. But I found myself spontaneously smiling at different times throughout their set, taken by surprise with the bag of audio tricks NOTS use to make every song shimmer and shine in their own right.
Lead singer Natalie Hoffman’s vocal delivery is more a series of connected declarative, definitive shouts than it is actual singing. Combined with the punchy, abrasive attitude she revels within onstage, it felt like the four female members of NOTS were plucked right out of the feminist Riot Grrrl punk movement of the ’90s. Every song heavily implemented experimental manic blurps and discordant droning radiating from keyboardist Alexandra Eastburn’s instrument that she used like a sci-fi detonation weapon: precisely pressing keys to blast sonically distinct sound effects while in her own zone rhythmically swaying her body back and forth. Factor in drummer Charlotte Watson’s lightspeed percussion and the booming bass of Meredith Lones, and the entire set was a beautiful cacophony of noise reminiscent of of aliens intercepting transmissions of Bikini Kill and remixing every song while caught in a time warp stuck in 1980.