CHBP Saturday: Happy Birthday

July 26th, 2010

I was surprised to hear a few murmurs of Happy Birthday‘s set being “subdued” and “boring” because, well, I felt 180 degrees differently. I’m not afraid to admit that my love for a recorded album might cloud my perception of a live performance, but I just can’t get down with that for this one. Grubby party planner Kyle Thomas was provocatively electrocuting the crowd with BIG, HUGE power metal chords the entire set; it almost felt like his guitar was a monster truck crushing our swooning hearts with one cutesy song after another. Not to mention that his bandmates’ silky smooth backup harmonizing took off like glittering eagles. Especially from the throat of adorable drummer Ruth Garbus, who, to my eyes, looks like Carrie Brownstein, drums like Janet Weiss, and sings better than either. Did the ladies of Sleater-Kinney miraculously master female-to-female procreation?…What? It could happen…

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The Vermont trio started off with the coy, playful (like, uh, all their songs) “2 Shy”; you can peep my video of it below. Not the most (a)rousing tune in their catalog, but it opened the floodgates nicely. A couple songs in, a new tune called “Super Star” opened up in typical slow-rock balladry, but then kicked it into some sort of wacky Buddy Holly/Jerry Lee Lewis gear for the final stanza. “Perverted Girl” was slightly perverted in its live presentation. This is when Thomas, aka King Tuff, really started to lay it on thick with his ‘come-hither’ fancy fingering to the crowd. Most of his lyrics indicate he’s into women, but the sly gender-bending is a big part of his greasy appeal. After “Pink Strawberry Shake” and “Eyes Music”, another new song was unveiled, and at first I thought it was a cover of “Wild Thing”, but it wasn’t; just a friendly approximation of the guitar riff. “Girls FM” kind of felt like an unbeatable high-pop climax, but then came the incredible aftershock with the should-be-a-karaoke-mainstay heart-wrenching of “Subliminal Message”. Aaaaaaaah…

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P.S. Happy Birthday, why no “Cracked” or “Zit”?? Why-huh-huhyyyyy??

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