Ex-Cult and Useless Eaters Bring Memphis Connection to Hemlock Tavern

Useless Eaters
May 16, 2015
Hemlock Tavern

Better than: Staying in for the night because you fucked yourself over by watching Montage of Heck earlier in the day and could have easily crawled into a dark hole of solitude; untrusting of humanity, the government and paranoid of being humiliated — just like Kurt.

Getting to play two shows in a single night seems like a pretty awesome way to spend your birthday, as was the case for Useless Eaters' drummer Miles Luttrell, who sat in for one of the local opening bands — Scraper — Saturday night at the Hemlock Tavern.

[jump] If it wasn't billed as such, the punk show may as well have been a double-headlined bill featuring Memphis' Ex-Cult as the closing band. Known for its releases on Goner Records, the band's live show delivered a Doc Marten boot to the face and crowd surfing onslaught that left few wallflowers standings. 

Plain T-shirt and tattooed frontman Chris Shaw wrecked the stage, forward folded his body in attempt to regain his balance after multiple dives and spills into the audience, interspersed by his screams into the microphone at a fevered pitch. The band didn't have as much banter for the audience as say, Scraper, but Shaw did manage to joke “Lick Me” in a nod to one of the previous band's crowd-favorite songs. 
It was as any punk show should be — a result of smart booking by the venue capitalizing on the Memphis connection, considering the Mid-South origins of Useless Eaters' lead singer and guitarist, Seth Sutton.

Useless Eaters' lineup has changed a bit since the band landed in the Bay Area; the latest incarnation adds a Korg player for an atmospheric, post-punk feel.

Sweat dripped, composure was lost and guitar strings broke, but the band powered through an electrified set with songs from recent releases Bleeding Moon and Hypertension, all culminating in its final song — an inspired cover of The Fall's “Rowche Rumble,” which in turn inspired a couple of ladies (of which there were very few in the audience) who sidelined themselves by sitting on the front speakers to get back on their feet while a pit raged behind them in the middle of the room. 

Critic's Notebook:

– Scrapers' Billy Schmidt wore his trademark white denim and told the audience they had bad hair.

– Love Moon was pretty much heavy metal.

– Nothing like getting knocked around at a punk show (knee first into speaker monitor) to make you feel alive. (Again, the Cobain movie did a number on me earlier in the day).

– Lastly, I asked my friend if Ex-Cult's final song in their encore was by The Doors. It sounded a hell of a lot familiar to me. I got a swift “no” in reply, almost condescending in tone. But as I walked down Polk Street to head home, I could hear two dudes behind me talking about “L.A. Woman” and how that was awesome. I had to look back and judging by the amount denim they wore, they were obviously at the same show as me and that was all the vindication I needed. 

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