Home / Concert Reviews / Hunx and His Punx w/ Shannon and the Clams and Holy Shit! @ Cactus Club
Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hunx and His Punx w/ Shannon and the Clams and Holy Shit! @ Cactus Club

April 30, 2011

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There's a frustrating misconception in popular music that it is necessary to discard the past wholesale in order to create something contemporary, but in truth new trails are often forged by rediscovering what we've long since forgotten. Take The Ramones: Before punk could open the doors to iconoclasts like Talking Heads, Devo and Joy Division, it was necessary for Joey, Dee Dee, Tommy and Johnny to lay the groundwork by updating pre-psychedelic sounds for a harsh new era. The girl groups and garage bands of the '60s became the basis for a new teen phenomenon. That the music was now hard and fast (and more about sniffing glue than sock hops) is of little consequence: The sound survived and evolved because there are always bratty kids with guitars and adolescent problems.

In this sense, Oakland, Calif.'s Hunx and His Punx are the noisy, campy children of The Ramones (and John Waters), twisting those earlier styles into sneering three-minute pop paeans to being young, gay and in love. Though they gained significant exposure on the strength of their unequivocal, statement-of-purpose tune "You Don't Like Rock 'N' Roll" (featured, along with other early songs, on the collection Gay Singles), they're also generating a lot of excitement with their newly released full-length Too Young to Be In Love, a fact reflected by the impressive number of jeans-and-leather-jacket-sporting fans crammed into the Cactus Club Saturday night.

Like the music it draws on, the band's sound is tailor-made for dancing, and from the first song to the last, the packed room vibrated with movement, only settling down when Hunx, in his pink-and-black leotard, cracked off-color jokes between numbers. It's a bit hard to describe how a style of music so familiar and seemingly done to death can suddenly feel so vital, but this band's sound isn't a tribute or a parody—it's forceful and alive. Unapologetically queer, fearlessly funny and ceaselessly rocking, Hunx and His Punx are proof positive that, after all the reports of its demise, rock 'n' roll is doing just fine.

The band's tour mates Shannon and the Clams, who share a member (Shannon Shaw) and an approach with Hunx and His Punx, leaned a bit heavier on surf and doo-wop than did the headliners, but they still hearkened back to the same bygone era.

Local openers Holy Shit! would seem a somewhat incongruous choice musically, but in spirit they were an ideal fit for the bill. Purveyors of a style of classic hardcore that is remarkably unburdened by the stylistic baggage of the genre's more recent incarnations while still managing to sound fresh, the group goes full tilt at every performance, and this one was no exception.