Bruise Cruise Day Three: Open-Bar Barrage With Piano Chaser
At all three Bruise Cruise-affiliated performances this past weekend, Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer and Brigid Dawson sang the unflappable garage-rock anthem "Enemy Destruct." The deceivingly simple lyrics include the line, "When love is in a hole, everybody fall in." When Sunday evening rolled around, we substituted "love" with "free drinks" and "a hole" with "Xanadu Lounge."
During what was easily the best-attended event of the entire cruise, the fruity cocktails circulated speedily with help from a legion of tray-carrying waitstaff. Double- and triple-fisting drinks was a common affair as Dwyer's band tore through "Meat Step Lively," "I Was Denied," and other Jefferson Airplane-infused punk numbers. Had anyone on the boat known about Charlie Sheen's predicament, this would have been the time to make the jokes.
Sunday began gently with the Puppets & Pancakes breakfast performance by New Orleans' Miss Pussycat. The puppet show was the same one staged at Thursday's Bruise Cruise Kickoff Party in Miami. As described by Arielle Castillo:
The psychedelic performance was about a cruise -- we think -- upon which
one of the main travelers was an alien/monster hybrid who claimed she
was a supermodel and archaeologist. Eventually, the Coast Guard showed
up to cramp her style, and after a bloody fight, a fellow monster
decided to love her as she was. Or something.
Photo by Ian Witlen
The audio was set at a much more pleasant level for this run-through, and sleepy bruisers demolished the sizable trays of danishes set inside the Shangri-La Lounge, a smaller venue with giant swirls of lights on the ceiling and a swirly patterned carpet to match. "Thinking is the hardest part," Miss Pussycat said of her creative process. She also showed a couple of DVDs that were like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood's puppet shows on acid. The second one, Electric Swamp, featured the best termite rave ever captured on film.
Photo by Ian Witlen
Turbo Fruits kicked into gear next led by the fearless Jonas Stein, whose voice was definitely still feeling the effects of the previous evening's performance. Seeing the band for a third time in four days gives a strong indication of how consistent this (and all of) the Bruise Cruise performers are -- especially the blues stomp of songs like "Mama's Mad Cos I Fried My Brain" and "Colt 45." When reading off some slight schedule adjustments for the day afterward, Stein fought off downright delirium.
It's official that I have written more concert reviews about Surfer Blood than any other band, and let it always be so. So far, there are always new ways to describe the pleasure of seeing a band of humorous guys who can play so reverently. In this case, watching the Shangri-La bartender nod attentively along to the island rhythms inserted into the rocker "Take It Easy" is enough. Oh, and by the way: The. Boat. Is. Moving. Again.
Photo by Ian Witlen
Then, things start to just get strange thanks to the Black Lips. With prior knowledge that this was going to be a "ripper" of an experience, it was not surprising that the video shoot for "Go Out and Get It" turned into a drunken party that concluded with an electric bass swimming with the sea bass.
Hours that felt like days later, the last programmed event -- too many sloshed duty-free purchases, bathroom run-ins with John Norris, and ballpoint-pen tattoos to mention here -- came together in a tiny piano bar. Mostly artists and journalists milled around the warped polygon of a space as a gifted pianist stroked the keys gently. Along with the ragtime and Vince Guaraldi, however, there were a few surprises. Notably, old Nintendo game themes would mix in. Zelda! And this was no ordinary pianist: Black Lips drummer Joe Bradley traded in his red swimsuit for a tux and slicked back his hair just for the occasion.
Photo by Reed Fischer
The Bruise Cruise came to a somewhat tranquil end after all. The room was quiet enough that you could even hear a photographer throwing up into his hand.
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