It's Sunday night. Little more than wind whips around the remains of the Festival of the Arts: a few drunks and strung-out vagabonds; porta-potties; ungainly street sweepers. A guy's yelling across the street as I enter the club. After a gaggle of Watusis fans dissipates, Bar Pink's pretty low-key.
The Unnatural Helpers are showing the effects of rolling — with sporadic gigs — down the coast from Seattle in four days. A full-tilt slam into "She Was Your Girlfriend" draws curious pool players and regulars toward the stage. The thin line of bodies thronging the front starts moving. Drummer-lead vox Dean Whitmore somewhat hoarsely shouts over the jerky four-four cacophony. Nearly ever song oozes with hooks seemingly rewoven from a bag of punk and post-punk influences. The flag sinks a few notches when the lead guitarist's cable dies; for a song and a half, the band looks a bit daunted before resuscitating with renewed ferocity. A fan screams after every song. The idea of covering a Television song is toyed with before three more high-octane numbers, ending with one quoting Sonic Youth's "Bull in the Heather" (among others): "Tell Me That You Wanna" could be a lust-sick male's response.
As the band packs up I ask UH founder Dean Whitmore how he hasn't lost his voice, having to project over such a glorious noise. After a response that could be an anthem for bands who've played without monitors, he adds, thoughtfully, "I use it to get things out."
- Concert: Unnatural Helpers
- Date: May 16
- Venue: Bar Pink
- Seats: right, left, center