Three Day Stubble

At a time when most bands were writing bubblegum pop and garage punk, the members of Three Day Stubble were assembling a brand of Beefheartian art, spaz they labeled simply as "nerd rock." A rare survivor of Houston's early-'80s music scene, Stubble is back in town to prove that its live antics are still as unsettling as they are entertaining -- and that its sound is more charged than ever.

Wizened alums of the local scene may remember a younger Donald the Nut, Stubble's lead singer, as more of a circus ring leader than a front man. Charging with raucous energy through song after song, Donald would pause occasionally to light a fart or show off his legendary pee fountain. Watching him live brought mixed emotions. It was like entering the world of voyeurism. You knew that it was a show, meant to be seen, but there was something personal and private about what he shared, something absolutely strange to witness in public. He was hilarious and at the same time disturbing. Very disturbing.

Before moving to San Francisco in the early '90s, Stubble was a mainstay of the alternative Houston scene. Like the movie American Beauty, which was a search for the sick side of self-centered, pointless suburban life in the 1990s, Stubble ventured on an equivalent journey in the power-driven 1980s. The group released its first album in 1982, displaying a striking talent for not only producing solid music but also exposing the hidden craziness in the heads of its band members, particularly Donald.

Once the band landed in San Fran, it released five albums over the course of ten years. The group has been together for 20 years now, constantly maturing sonically without losing sight of its original plan, which is some achievement. Regardless of how strange, Three Day Stubble makes a point to extract the idiosyncrasies in its music. These quirks, though, do not disappear when the band exits the stage, leaving an audience to wonder how much is reality and how much is merely a crazy act. Three Day Stubble creates delicious, surreal performance art in any context.

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Elizabeth Taishoff