Bruise Cruise Kickoff Party, Grand Central, February 24

Bruise Cruise Pre-Party
With Black Lips, Quintron & Miss Pussycat, Vivian Girls, Thee Oh Sees, the Strange Boys, Surfer Blood, Ty Segall Turbo Fruits, and Jacuzzi Boys
Grand Central, Miami
Thursday, February 24, 2010

Check out a slideshow from the concert here.

Better Than: Seven hours of watching the Home Shopping Network.

There was a melee of drunken bodies thrusting every which way, and beer spraying through Grand Central's hazy air during an entire work day's worth of garage rock summer camp Thursday evening. The night dealt out plenty of bruises of honor. Heck, anyone with fortitude enough to withstand the entire night likely earned a pair of dark, swollen bags under their eyes today. All necessary evils for a festival-caliber show. 

Even if Iggy Pop wasn't in the building physically on this night, the delicious mischief, dirty garage rock, and wailing vocals heard throughout gave the impression that Ty Segall and the rest of the Bruise Cruise acts were playing their faces off just in case. More than likely, all of the acts felt the ante-upping power of their fellow performers and kept flexing tighter.

Segall's mid-show set provided the lubrication (and came at the point when the audience was just beginning to get sauced and rambunctious) for the first wide-scale moshing in the place. Looking like a punk member of the Bad News Bears, his massive blond mane thrashed along with the turbulent bodies and his own J. Mascis-inflected riffs. With a bunch of new songs, and feverish blasts from Melted, Segall and his co-ed backing band -- nice Black Flag tee, drummer! -- closed out by dumping several pieces of equipment into the crowd.

Adding to the mixed-gender pleasures of the evening was the thrilling saxophone assertions by Jenna E. Thornhill DeWitt during the Strange Boys' country-flavored giddy punk. The Sambol brothers' kept finding logical falsetto harmonies and looked genial as ever as observers' hot sweat splayed all around them. Southern hospitality also figured into the Turbo Fruits' onstage demeanor. In a white, sleeveless patriotic tee, Bruise Cruise organizer and lead singer Jonas Stein delivered plenty of delicious drawl, and a high hop mid-set. "Mama's Mad Cos I Fried My Brain" proved apt judging by the mind-altering forced unfolding onstage.

The bombast of "Enemy Destruct" during Thee Oh Sees' hard-charging garage rawk set later on pummeled the crowd. Wild-eyed frontman John Dwyer and his cohorts formed a semi-circle close to the front of the stage to make use of as little of it as possible. Not only did this create the effect of a much smaller, danker club show, but it gave them a front row seat to the free-for-all everywhere. In addition to his impressive vintage guitar collection, Dwyer's charming, trademark whoops throughout the night meant he couldn't be onstage long enough -- ever.

Miami's own Jacuzzi Boys also employed the whoops and got the early arrivals charged up. Singer-guitarist Gabriel Alcala's eyes got so massive at one point that they could've lit up the entire place. He said that "Bricks or Coconuts" was about the Bruise Cruise, but it could've easily been "Island Ave." -- or any of the numerous other upbeat retro numbers. As for the other local product, Surfer Blood incited some hollers of "West Palm, baby," from the cheap seats. That really good new song mentioned here sounded triumphant, and J.P. Pitts' guitar heroics are ever-more-muscular. Aside from "Swim (To Reach the End)" sort of dying an abrupt death, the fuzzy pop came through big. 

As the night went on, the antics got sloppier. During the Vivian Girls' far from riot-inciting set, Pitts tried his luck stage-diving and ended up unlucky. The venue's security forces suddenly asserted their presence during this portion of the evening, which was a little off-putting. Tie-dye clad singer Cassie Ramone stayed out of it, though, and kept a faraway look in her eye. Katy Goodman brought her bass and herself into the crowd momentarily, which seemed to ebb the tension.

As the night wore on, the crowd did tighten up a little. By the middle of Miss Pussycat's puppet show, which followed a spirited performance by an eventually shirtless Quintron, calls for the Black Lips came from a few ribald corners of the room. When the Lips hit the stage, it was holy shit o'clock. The four guys requested "more beer in the monitors" and got to work on a delightfully irreverent set for those still standing -- or crowd-surfing.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Thee Oh Sees not only played heroically, but it came before things got thoroughly exhausting.

The Crowd: Seven hours is a long time when you're pounding drinks, sporting a mullet, and wearing sequins.

Random Detail: When Miss Pussycat dropped a shaker during her performance with Quintron, local psychedelic experimenter Dino Felipe not only retrieved it, but came onstage to participate.

Overheard: Jacuzzi Boys' Gabriel Alcala to a friend at a urinal in the men's room, "Have a good piss!"

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