Home / Concert Reviews / Hunx and His Punx w/ Hunters and Pow Wow @ Cactus Club
Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013

Hunx and His Punx w/ Hunters and Pow Wow @ Cactus Club

Aug. 19, 2013

hunx and his punx
Hunx and His Punx
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After the gooey, girl group vibes of their 2011 debut album Too Young to Be in Love, San Francisco garage rockers Hunx and His Punx’s new Street Punk, out now on Hardly Art Records, is something of a shock to the system, all antisocial attitude and brief bursts of frantic ’80s-style hardcore. It’s a distinct, overt shift, but an elegantly appropriate one and, as their similar covers may suggest, one with more continuity than maybe apparent on first listens. As different as they are, the slicked-back ’50s sounds of the former and the snotty punk of the latter are just different points along a teenage musical continuum, and the band, now composed of Seth “Hunx” Bogart and bassist Shannon Shaw following some drastic lineup changes, approaches either genre with the same bratty sneer, the same bold queerness and the same undeniable, effortless feel for rock ’n’ roll fundamentals.  Even Monday they covered both releases and more, and yet it all made sense. Well, for the most part.

A pair of openers warmed up what turned out to be a bustling, but not overwhelming, Monday night crowd, the first being Milwaukee quartet Pow Wow, who trade in a strain of power pop that finds an intriguing balance between jangly hooks and harder, louder riffs. As with any variations on power-pop, though, songcraft is king, and they’ve got some impressive originals, even though a cover of Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love” proved one of their more memorable moments. Then came Hunters, a Brooklyn group of post-punk revivalist who corral brittle guitars and dazed male-female vocals a la Sonic Youth into punchy ’90s alternative pop song structures (they even recorded a handful of songs with Smashing Pumpkin James Iha in the producer’s chair), ending up somewhere in Yeah Yeah Yeahs territory. They felt a little overly derivative at times, but an abundance of energy covered those cracks, and between the lead singer and guitarist’s art-punk hairdos, they’ve certainly got a look.

Flamboyant as always, Hunx and Shaw, plus a drummer and guitarist, had a look too, a sort of drag parody of the spiky black leather styles of the new album’s titular subculture. The show began with a confession from Bogart that he was incredibly stoned, after which he collapsed into a giggling heap before collecting himself and ripping into evergreen opener “You Don’t Like Rock ’n’ Roll,” one of only a few entries from their name-making Gay Singles collection in a set otherwise split between their two proper albums. Street Punk assaults such as “Bad Skin” and “Born Blonde” played like raw nerves, and that aesthetic added some interesting scratchiness to Too Young to Be in Love selections like “The Curse of Being Young,” but in spots it felt somewhat off-kilter, thanks in part to Bogart’s spaced-out state, which took his usual salacious comic banter in some surreal directions. A little weirdness is just part of the fun, though; you can’t expect a performer like Hunx to play it straight.