Estrus / Lookout! Showcases, Emo's
Emo's "I fucked your boyfriend." It's definitely a punk rock show when you see a woman wearing a T-shirt with that inscription. Or more correctly, a punk rock showcase, this particular two-headed beast highlighting bands from indie punkish labels Estrus and Lookout! Punk-ish, because it's not quite the original raw stylings that kicked rock's pompous ass over 20 years ago. Rather, it's what punk has become, adding tidbits from other styles. In the Estrus camp, it's feral, blues-seasoned punk, while Lookout! is more vocally driven, distorted pop punk. The Crumbs launched things off for Lookout! on Emo's smaller upstairs stage, the Miami-based quartet energetic from the get-go, their lead vocalist jumping in the crowd while strumming his electric during the first of the band's short, solo-free songs. On the larger downstairs stage, Estrus' Mooney Suzuki dumped their chaotic, bluesy-mod punk on an attentive, but not very vocal crowd. All in black, standing in front of a large skull-headed tarantula picture, the New York foursome plugged away at their very rock & roll show, even when -- as if on cue during "Everything's Going Wrong" -- guitar strings broke and the lead mike dropped into the monitor speaker, yielding expected feedback. Labelmates from Seattle, the Gimmicks emoted longhaired, wild-eyed, and whiskey-flavored, amped-up hard rock, though the crowd didn't seem to dig it as much, many making their way inside, where San Francisco's One Man Army proved that a trio can put out as much energy as any quartet. Pleasing the black-fingernailed and mohawked crowd with their East London unpretentiousness, the Lookout! threepiece played cuts off their fresh Last Word Spoken. They also won Best Story Award, recounting an unpleasant encounter with a K-9 police dispatch in Utah, and with it, a quickly ingested bag of wacky tobaccy. Also coming from the Bay Area, Berkeley's American Steel had some of the best vocals of the night, simultaneously tight and screaming. Outside, a hard rain began to fall, with bullet raindrops hitting the outside stage's tin roof loudly enough to compete with Fireballs of Freedom's sound check. The Missoula, Montana, quartet was loud and frenetic, but still composed, with their more detailed arrangements increasing in intensity. Before the night was out, Estrus' Sugar Shack, the Nomads, and Man ... or Astroman?, and Lookout!'s Ann Berretta, Groovie Ghoulies, and the Mr. T. Experience would all perform. All told, two six-packs of punk-fueled hard rock on two stages. Long live punk!