Monday, April 21, 2014

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Sound Stage

Downhill from the start

8/21/2013

Rumble Seat Riot bassist Larry Kaster.

Rumble Seat Riot bassist Larry Kaster.

To the heart of things: Last week at Gas Lamp, Rumble Seat Riot — Des Moines’ own three-piece purveyors of Rockabilly — wound up opening for a couple of New Mexico acts that found themselves so thoroughly outstripped in both talent and presentation it was laughable.

For those unfamiliar with Rumble Seat Riot, all I can say is you’re missing out. Frontman Gene Senn, timekeeper Butchie Spencer and upright bassist Larry Kaster combine to output some of the city’s most original sounds. Kaster’s work was of particular note, though the evening was hindered slightly by Spencer’s bad back which, while it didn’t hinder his quality of work, may have ended the set a little earlier than preferred.

Second on the bill was Shiprock, N.M., four-piece End This Year, and, if this world is a just place, the band name also serves as a declaration of its short-term plans. When the group started its first song, I was actually pleasantly surprised with the sound. Bassist Anthony Lee opened the show with a Fugazi-esque groove that caught my attention, but all that good work was quickly undone the moment Delwyn Johnson opened his mouth. The set went downhill from there.

Finally, the evening was closed out by the Lo Cash Ninjas, a punk act that’s not “punk” in the “biting social commentary with a DIY sound” sense of the word, but in the “we don’t really know what we’re doing with these instruments, so we’ll scream to compensate” one.

Both out-of-state acts surely have their fans, and while I refuse to agree with those people, I don’t begrudge them their tastes. But to hear an act as polished, melodic and structurally sound as Rumble Seat Riot opening for a couple of calamitous noisemakers strikes one as a giant misstep. CV

Jokers