January 8th, 2009
Review by Brian Moss
Better Than: Staying at home to sulk.
After a week involving a grueling breakup and a bombardment of telephone calls from debt collectors there's definitely something to be said about the cheerful nature of a punk show held at a bar commonly associated with dance and drag nights. Blessed be our fine city for embracing such an amalgamation of culture and blessed be yours truly for perpetuating stereotypes by telling my friend visiting from Montreal who was made slightly uncomfortable by the urinal mirror, "oh yeah, every show in San Francisco goes down just like this." Given my penchant for character-thick, dim-lit watering holes and no-frills, gritty rock-n-roll, this particular night felt ripe with promise.
Priding themselves on the fact that they tour in a 1990 Toyota Corolla and refuse to write love songs despite their inter-band couple status, The East Bay's Street Eaters are a relatively new and unknown duo featuring Megan March and Johnny Geek, both of whom have longstanding and notable rap sheets (The Fleshies, Master Volume, Triclops, Harbinger, and Neverending Party). While their music bares subtle traces of similarity to their other workings, the two collaborators manage to cultivate a revitalizing and definitively unique sound. Founded in fuzz-laden, treble-cranked bass parts, dual vocal hooks, relentless rhythmical clamor, and classic East Bay punk undertones pressed through a garage n' noise filter, it's simultaneously infectious and abrasive. It's not overly loose, but far from precise, which works to their favor creating a fun and raucous tonic that's sure to jolt some life into even the most downtrodden set of bones.
Playing in the middle slot between the commendable trashed-out poodle skirt sing-a-longs of C'mon Everybody and the melody-rich gritty throwback rock of Hoboken's Personal and the Pizzas, Street Eaters opted to play on the floor while the others took to the stage. In twenty five minutes they tore their way through a frenzied set, illuminated awkwardly by The Stud's disco lighting and the occasional flash photograph.
Although the confines of having to hold and play an instrument prevented Johnny from carrying out some of the antagonistic free-hand singing antics that have defined some of his other bands live shows, the band's demeanor remained highly charged nonetheless. There were teeter-tottered near falls, facial contortions, flailing arms, and sufficient amounts of back and forth banter. Pop sensibility occasionally surfaced with whoa-oh-oh presence from beneath the mud of Albini-esque distortion and ruckus, but was repeatedly kicked back under before things got too easy on the ears.
By the time it was over it felt as though things hadn't even really gotten started. Short and sweetly sour - just the way I like it.
Knowing that the morning would soon find me slightly hungover and weighed down by looming unpaid bills and the resonance of personal troubles, I took one last glance at the sweat and beer stained floors, pawn shopped guitars, and half-drunk show goers harmoniously mingling with the regulars. Then, with my appeased French-Canadian comrade in tow, I headed out into the foggy cold and smiled sincerely for the first time in days.
Personal Bias: A long history and deep-rooted sense of respect for both of the band's members and creative endeavors.
Random Detail: The ease-dropped conversational moment of the night involved a young suitor discussing how horrible playing art galleries is with the object of his desire.
By the way: Street Eaters have two 7"s and a 12" dropping in the near future. As previously implied, Megan and Johnny's other bands are also worthy of praise.