The Upstate Concert Hall is one of my favorite venues, small and intimate, and I love catching shows there. It’s the kind of place that really lets you experience a live show in the best way, crowded up against a bunch of people, dancing and bouncing and fist-pumping, getting sweaty and having the time of your life.
The Bunny The Bear is a very unusual band from Buffalo. Two vocalists, one in a bunny mask, one in a bear mask, plus two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer. A lot of people on a fairly small stage, moving around to the music.
I’m not a fan of shoving bands into pigeonholes, but even if I were, I still have no idea how I would classify this band. Part punk, part rock, part screamo, part 80s-influenced electropop, introspective lyrics and a Donnie Darko grunge aesthetic.
The music was often loud and raucous, filled with roaring guitars and pounding drums, and two distinctly different vocal styles. Matthew “The Bunny” Tybor shredded his voice screaming into the mic and Chris “The Bear” Hutka contributed strangely sweet, almost delicate vocals.
There was an underlying beat that made my feet move, and really, that’s usually all I ask from a band. But with The Bunny The Bear there was something undefinable about the music that made their set almost hypnotic. I’m not sure if their music is better live or recorded, but it was interesting enough that I won’t be forgetting them any time soon.
Their new album Food Chain just dropped and they’re on tour until the end of April. Check them out if you’re looking for something different. I have a feeling that their music is the kind of stuff that grows on you.
Chantal Claret is a firecracker. Not only is she one hell of a singer, but she has an amazing stage presence that just sets the place on fire. In many ways, Chantal reminds me of Tina Turner: sexy voice, sexy legs and so much vibrant energy. Okay, maybe it’s mostly the legs and the way she shimmies on stage.
Chantal’s working a 60’s soul music homage with her 2012 debut solo album The One, The Only… and it’s a perfect fit with her sassy attitude and powerful voice. She sings and dances, wades through the crowd, gets up on the bar and entrances the audience. She has a way of making every show feel intimate, and I always feel a connection with her when I see her performance.
She tore up the stage and brought the house down with her smoldering vocals, tearing through favorites like “Bite Your Tongue” and “Jail Bait.” I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect show.
Chantal is one of my heroines, just bursting with talent. She’s a professional singer and songwriter, she’s directed several music videos and she totally embodies the concept of D.I.Y. artist. For those who follow Chantal on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve seen her create silkscreened shirts and watched her amazing Polaroid Project come together.
If you’ve never seen Chantal live, you really have no idea what you are missing. It’s a little easier to catch her shows if you live on the west coast, but she does occasionally hit the east coast and the UK. Check her out, because she is an artist worth knowing.
The first time I saw Mindless Self Indulgence, I knew maybe two songs. Which considering they’ve released five studio albums, a handful of EPs and demos, and a bunch of remixes and singles, is just a tiny portion of their discography. I didn’t know what to expect, but I left the show a total hardcore fan of this band.
This time around, I was lucky enough to get to spend a few minutes before the show interviewing ‘Little’ Jimmy Urine, talking about influences and fans and being geeks.
One of the best things about MSI shows is how much the audience feeds off the band’s energy and reflects it back. Jimmy is the perfect frontman, teasing and taunting the crowd, alternating between insulting and vamping it up, and they love it. They scream the lyrics along with him, try to touch him, crowd surf and bounce along with the weirdly catchy songs.
An unusual aspect of this tour is the evolving set list. Each band member gets to choose a song during the show, which results in hearing some songs that are not a regular part of MSI’s sets. There was a good mix of old songs and newer ones, and I heard a lot of my favorites.
Steve, Kitty and LynZ were great, thrashing their way through the songs and following Jimmy down whatever crazy musical path he was taking. The band sounded perfect, not too loud, and I love the wordless interplay between them; you can tell that this is a band and a family.
The set started with “It Gets Worse” and ended with “I Hate Jimmy Page,” and in-between there were backbends and LynZ sitting on the floor playing her bass, Jimmy lying on the ground, Kitty being cute, and the discovery that yes, Jimmy’s underwear was also pink. All in a night’s work for MSI.
They’re irreverent and subversive and I love their music a lot. Electronica-tinged punk rock, in-your-face lyrics and danceable beats; there’s no one else like them. I’m going to miss them while they’re on their break.
MSI is Little Jimmy Urine on vocals, LynZ on bass, Steve, Righ? on guitar, and Kitty on drums. They are touring in support of their 2013 album How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence until mid-April and then they’re taking some time off.