Perfect Pussy at 7th St. Entry – 3/30/14 (Live Review)

by Steven Spoerl

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First of all, deepest apologies for the delay in content. It’s been an incredibly busy week and there hasn’t been much time to post anything between driving over 1,300 miles, prepping all of the content that came out of that trip, and the crippling side effects of getting a total of nine hours sleep over four days’ time. There was a reason for all of that insanity and the reason, for anyone even remotely familiar with this site, won’t come as a surprise.

It had only been two short months since the last time the coverage of Perfect Pussy’s incendiary Chicago set, which was something that played a definite factor in the decision to drive from central Wisconsin to Minneapolis to Chicago over three days to see them play two more sets. While there will be more to come on the second Chicago show, this piece will be devoted to their Minneapolis stop at the legendary 7th St. Entry, which more than lived up to its reputation.

Not only was the drive down much more pleasant than the potentially life-threatening Chicago trip back in January but there was actually time to spare before the opening acts, ensuring both time to settle in and the ability to see all three bands on a characteristically impressive bill. First up were local stalwarts The Miami Dolphins. All wiry nerve and frenetic energy, the quartet ripped through one of the most memorably spastic sets there’s been in quite some times. Seamlessly transitioning between a shrill metallic dissonance falling somewhere between Shellac and Sonic Youth at their most aggressive, the completely left-field work of The Minutemen at their strangest, and moments of both staggering heaviness and genuinely bouncy surf-inflected powerpop sounds like a mess on paper. Luckily, the written word doesn’t dictate motion. The Miami Dolphins’ set managed to be unpredictably thrilling and left a deep impression- they control their future by the sheer virtue of fearless originality. There’s not many things in music that are more commendable than pulling that feat off.

A set as jumpy and insanely bug-eyed as The Miami Dolphins’ one, especially when used in the opening slot, has multiple benefits- one of them being that it can cover a wide range as a set-up for the ensuing act. Condominium‘s abrasive hardcore noise somehow seemed to dovetail quite nicely with their preceding act despite occupying two very different ends of the hardcore spectrum. Their unifying ground may have come via what seems to be a distinctly unique debt to the readily apparent influence of Steve Albini but the level of intensity both brought to their live sets wound up being what pushed them into a comfortable coexistence (and wound up heightening the expectations for Perfect Pussy’s set). They played as loud as possible and approached frightening with their militaristic precision but really seemed to live for the moments of pure noise (usually generated by guitarist Greg Stiffler’s penchant for maximum-impact feedback sections). More than anything, they obliterated any lingering doubts (if their were any to begin with) that their Sub Pop signing and subsequent release was a fluke.  Last Sunday their set seemed to indicate that they were far from done. Expect to be hearing about them quite a bit more in the coming years.

After two incredibly loud sets (neither lacking in the intensity department), the stage had been set and the bar had been raised. Perfect Pussy came out, sans vocal amp, set up and looked downright tranquil for a few moments to the point where it became an effectively eerie calm-before-the-storm situation, all members looking down at their feet or out at the void that exists pasts the blinding stage lights. Meredith Graves, one of the most seductively intimidating and forceful performers on the face of the planet, paced silently.  Then, it happened. Drummer Garrett Koloski counted the band in and they took off with enough velocity to send the crowd into immediate hysterics. All of the band poured every inch of themselves into their near-twenty minute set (a marathon by their past standards) and absolutely tore through the majority of Say Yes to Love while also making sure I have lost all desire for feeling wasn’t completely neglected either.

Both the band and the audience fed off of each other in another strong example of the most supportive symbiotic relationships imaginable, reaching a fever pitch during the band’s last stretch that kicked off with the back half of the unbelievably gorgeous-turned-unbelievably fierce “Interference Fits” (a highlight even without an introduction containing a dedication worth eternal gratitude for).  Shaun Sutkus’ body shook violently, as if he was possessed, guitarist Ray McAndrew couldn’t stop thrashing around even during the very few song breaks that the band allows, and bassist Greg Ambler seemed to be everywhere at once. At several points, being on the stage looked about as risky as being in the center of the audience. That potential danger seemed second nature to everyone between those four walls, though, as it was nearly impossible to find anyone in 7th St. Entry without a massive grin on their face.

Feeding into that relentless energy and making Perfect Pussy’s set even more memorable was the fact that it sounded incredible (seriously, major props to whoever was behind the soundboard, bands that loud and chaotic are not easy to mix- especially when the singer’s notorious for wanting to drown the vocals in swells of interference and pure feedback). Actually hearing Graves yell things like “Ain’t that a big drag?!” over the staggering wall of noise her bandmates conjure up around her was nearly as cathartic on its own as the presentation as a composite whole. There were times where it really was all whirlwind, heat, and flash. Photographers staked out their ground early only to be swallowed up in the chaos surrounding them, beer was spilled on just about everyone, converts were made and the band was onstage, doing what they love, clearly having the time of their lives, unafraid to show their adoration for anyone in the audience reacting to something they created.

By the time Sutkus’ epilogue showcase had finally run itself into silence, McAndrew, Ambler, Koloski, and Graves had all exited the stage, visibly exhausted but still feeling the overwhelming excitement that comes with being at the center of a groundswell. They may have their detractors, they may also have the accompanying anxieties of being a band that’s incredibly visible so early on, and they may very well have escalating levels of doubt- but one thing’s for sure- they put on one hell of a show. All fingers crossed that this thing they’re at the center of lasts as long as it possibly can- and that they get every ounce of enjoyment out of it as humanly possible. They deserve it.

Photographs below.