On a hot scorching summer night in Rochester, the last place you want to be is stuffed into a jam-packed Bug Jar. For the voracious music fans among us, some shows are just too good to pass up, no matter the weather. So when the Frankie and the Witch Fingers quartet from Los Angeles via Bloomington made their long-awaited return to the room, enough souls made that decision of music over comfort to fill the joint. Toronto’s Hot Garbage and locals CD-ROM completed the fuzzy psychedelic bill.
Frankie and the Witch Fingers took the stage for their set, did a quick secret long-distance handshake, then launched into a new track, “Empire.” And they launched it. In a storm of rock goodness, with syncopated guitars and basses, intricate guitar leads, tribal beats, a bit of West African psychedelia and enough manic drum fills to excite the most jaded fan.
“Cocaine Dream” went full punk, “Pleasure” went funky with big pop bass action from Nicki Pickle, and “Realization” had lead guitarist Josh Menashe in shredding territory. The band and crowd were slick and sweaty and ready for the platter meat. A “Cavehead”/“MEPEM” combo went long and deep, swirling and twisting and peaking and falling, but still wild. Vocalist and guitarist Dylan Sizemore bounced, shook and vibrated, every note and beat racing through his body. Pickle grooved on his bass sporting a huge “damn that’s badass” grin on his face. Drummer Shaugnessy Starr led the energy swell after swell, culminating with a huge rhythmic closing section.
“Dracula Drug” continued the relentless onslaught. The slowdowns in “Reaper” and “Work” were just fake outings to hit the crowd with surprise knockout hooks. By the end of the set, the band and audience were ready to call the fight. Pieces of sweaty flesh settled outside to reorient themselves and cool off.
Toronto quartet Hot Garbage made their final tour opening appearance for the Witch Fingers. A garage rock sound with avant-garde bass, all mixed in a fat mash. They took full control of the crowd. Keys, guitar and bass work the head and torso, kneading, pounding and sculpting. While drummer Mark Henein moved everything from ass to bottom, shaking and tugging like strings on a puppet. “Easy Believer” was long and buzzy and featured a delicious bassline that you could live with for days. “Ride” a slow psychedelic march, closed the set and put them on their way home.
The psychedelic rock band CD-ROM from Rochester started the evening off fun with lots of reverb and fuzzy guitar and synths. Vocalist Jesse Amesmith made creative use of effects using her voice as her instrument, working on and around the stage as keys, guitars and drums matched her movements. The Zeppelin-worthy rock releases were met with time-shifted whirlwinds and high-energy punk ragers.