Nobunny at the Frequency – 11/11/13 (Live Review)

by Steven Spoerl

Expectations are a tricky thing. They can be met, challenged, exceeded, subverted, and failed. When there’s a history that expectations are built on, it may be easier to discern the outcome. Every now and then, though, something will come along and completely mess with that system. Having seen both Nobunny and The Hussy and what they’re capable of, it was best to cast any sort of prediction aside. New Years Gang, on the other hand, were a completely new prospect and subject to more intense scrutiny.

Their opening set would be the final time they took the stage together, as an internal breakup brought their road to an end. Tensions did seem to be running high but they still managed to generate enough momentum to cause a decent amount of celebration in the steadily-growing crowd. Last-minute changes were made to the set, demanding chants for shirtlessness were cast, and the band played in a loose manner that treated their brand of basement punk quite nicely. By their sets final moments, the earlier requests for more skin had been half-obliged, the band seemed truly done, and the crowd seemed satisfied.

After a decent pause between New Years Gang and The Hussy, the latter took off and hit the ground running. Having kept up with The Hussy since their first few months as a band, it’s been a pleasure to see reactions to their sets strengthen over time. This duo, made up of Bobby Hussy and Heather Sawyer, have been responsible for three of the best records to come out of WI over the past three years and in 2013, they unleashed their strongest to date, Pagan Hiss. Unsurprisingly, their set pulled mostly from that record but made sure to factor in cuts that spanned their still-young career. They paced their set perfectly and played more by fiercely than ever. True to form, their set ended with a jaguar on fire (which seems like a fairly apt metaphor for the ferocity of their set).

Then there was Nobunny. The masked marauder and his rotating cast of minions had been through WI a few times since capping off an especially memorable pre-wedding party a few years back and it showed. Years on the road can do wonders for presentation and Nobunny played up his unique angle for all its curious worth. Absolutely tearing through a gloriously ramshackle set of a career-spanning set has become second nature to the iconic rabbit. Flubbed notes and uninhibited glee were abundant and the energy pouring out of the band was reciprocated in full by the audience. Clad in only that demented mask, torn net stockings, two pairs of underwear, and a leather jacket (most of which were gone by the end of the night), he seemed unstoppable. At this point, of his ouevre, Love Visions is the only stone cold classic. That being the case, the rapturous reactions to standouts like “Chuck Berry Holiday” (which was introduced as “Elvis Presley Holiday”), “Mess Me Up”, “Nobunny Loves You”, and especially “I Am A Girlfriend” were well-warranted.

Of the remainder of his rapid-fire set, there were a handful of standouts from his more recent releases (most notably “Gone for Good”) that helped round a surprisingly accomplished set. Throughout the indeterminable set time the crowd had expanded considerably, letting loose like their life depended on it. People were continuously thrown into the stage, falling to the ground only to be immediately helped back up, and stage diving intermittently. For every new trick the rabbit onstage pulled out of his hat, the audience’s energy accelerated. When, for example, the outro to “Chuck Berry Holiday” came about two songs after it had originally trailed off, the place erupted. After “Nobunny Loves You” brought the whirlwind set to a close, the main attraction scampered off the stage and through the audience before re-emerging from the frigid November air through an emergency exit door to the side of the stage.

Nobunny and his band brought things to an appropriately fiery close (albeit not as literally as The Hussy) with the one-song encore of “Not That Good”. By the time everything was over, everyone was spent and smiling. Chaos seemed to inspire companionship. New friends were made, old ones rejoiced, and virtually everyone else got to go home with a few stories to tell. It was a night that saw one band come to a close, the next flourish, and the culmination of years worth of hard-won adoration for the main event. While The New Years Gang may be gone for good, here’s hoping that both The Hussy and Nobunny will be around for a long time to come.