12:10am, Lava Lounge Patio
"At the beginning we thought we should dress like a gang," reminisces Skullening beatmaster Scott Jennings. "It was kind of like getting rid of the street clothes aspect of it so that you're not judging someone by the way they look, even though you're judging them by their costume. By making it ridiculous, people can't really judge."
San Antonio noise punk quartet Skullening are the men behind the masks: They sit watching British comedy guru Benny Hill as he squirms beneath the flatulence of an upper bunkmate. Later he dons exercise gear, aerobicizing with some luscious, big-haired beauties. Soon he'll sport his trademark trenchcoat with very little underneath. In some weird and surreal manner, Skullening is the long-lost cousin of the dirty old man.
Leonard Guerra is the antagonist: bouncing at 300 rpm, spitting out consonants and screeches like he's on fire. Chris Cates, the mime, thumps heavy, dark head down and glasses shielded by some bit of plastic or mesh. The newest member, Ryan Markmann, brings a bit of melody to the swirling dervish of a blaring, psychotic organ. All under the urging of Jennings' drums.
"The whole idea is to not outstay your welcome," explains Guerra. "Since it's so loud, it's probably better not to."
Skullening is not to be taken lightly. They come at you at full-force, and before your pint's dry, the set's over. Fifteen minutes of earth-shattering rampage fueled by anger, frustration, and provocation. It's lightning-quick, thunder-rumbling agony/ecstasy played by puppeteers pulling the strings of a last-minute party with no guitarist invited.
"Just having an organ and no guitar makes it different than anything else," acknowledges Jennings. It's like being led in fast-forward, of course through a distorted, screwball nightmare that you can't wait to write down in the morning.