Black Pussy, HogLeg, the Dirty Seeds
Rudyard’s British Pub
March 17, 2016
St. Paddy’s Day can be a rough gig, man. It’s the one day out of the year when most people would actually rather be listening to pipes and drums, and even the people who do show up to hear you are about half a green beer away from projectile-blarneying all over you. That can be frustrating and tense for any band, especially on a weeknight.
Rudyard’s did its best to mostly ignore the holiday on Thursday, treating it as just another night at the pub. The bands booked upstairs seemed only too happy to follow suit. There was no festive greenery displayed onstage, nor any cornball Irish tokenisms. Hell, I didn’t even smell any green in the air. The small but rowdy crowd who turned out to Rudz on St. Pat’s, it seemed, was ready to rock and roll without having to deal with any leprechaun bullshit.
Most people were there to see Black Pussy. You can write a lot of semi-amusing little sentences like that about Black Pussy, because their name is Black Pussy. People and publications (including this one) have given them plenty of shit over that name since they arrived on the national scene a couple of years back, calling it racist, sexist and just plain dumb. And maybe it’s all of those things, even though there’s nothing else about the band that’s particularly offensive. But they do happen to play music as well, and a number of us wanted to hear what it sounded like.
It was a tight little lineup upstairs, there. The Dirty Seeds opened things up with a batch of heavy stoner boogie highlighted by a big, headbanging bridge on “Dirty Wizard.” The high-octane shuffling continued next with HogLeg, which turned out to include members of Poor Dumb Bastards, Born Again Virgins, Dixie Waste and other hard-chargin’ local acts. People crowded in down front, which is really the only way to see anything that’s happening on the tiny stage at Rudyard’s. A young guy with a Mohawk moshed gamely during “Rock and Roll Suicide,” and the crowd of folks wearing their denim Turbojugend jackets tolerated him for a while before he was summarily bounced. Nobody seemed in the mood for those kinds of shenanigans as HogLeg busted out some Mötley Crüe riffs with a lot of punk attitude.
It’s a wonder Black Pussy had any room at all onstage when they arrived, so jam-packed was it with their large, vintage gear. Clearly, these guys had a love for the past, decked out in ‘70s bell-bottoms and extremely long locks. And Black Pussy was most definitely unshaven. (Okay, I sort of bummed myself out with that one. Sorry.)
When the band’s freaky old synths cranked up, it was easy to assume that we were in for a set of throwback acid rock, but Black Pussy’s sound is a little more nuanced than that. There was an apparent appreciation of Hendrix and the Stones, to be sure, but there was a lot of ‘90s alternative and Desert Rock booming out of those amp heads, too. Garage-rock elements helped to ground some of the tunes’ jammier stoner elements. In short, they weren’t just another Black Sabbath ripoff, and thank God for that.
Front man Dustin Hill cut an impressive figure behind the mike, but it was hard to keep our eyes off drummer Dean Carroll, who never stopped smiling as he bashed away on his clear kit that changed colors in the light. All five instrumentalists balanced out very seamlessly, bleeding together under heavy blankets of effects.
The highlight of their set was the hard and spacey title track from their Magic Moustache album. The semi-psychedelic tune ended with a big rave-up that quoted liberally from “Free Bird,” virtually answering the prayers of that one drunk turd at every concert. It was after midnight by then, and most of the remaining crowd looked a little worse for wear. Friday morning arrived awfully early today for a lot of us around the city. I know I’m three Advil in.
Once you get past their name (which, let us remind you, is Black Pussy), Black Pussy is a pretty pleasant experience. Their heavy drums and good-time grooves make a fine addition to America’s current crop of ‘70s-obsessed heavy rock outfits. And best of all, on Thursday, they didn’t force anyone into drinking an Irish Carbomb. Shit, that practically makes them heroes.
Personal Bias: English pride.
The Crowd: Smallish but ready to rock.
Overheard in the Crowd: “Is that a clip-on Mohawk?”
Random Notebook Dump: I don’t think I’m alone in saying this morning that I’m never drinking beer again.