I turn to the soundguy three or four minutes into The Terminals set at O’Leaver’s last night and tell him I can’t hear the guitar at all. It’s somewhat overpowered, he replies, by the keyboards, which have to pull double-duty as both keyboards and bass. It’s the first time I’ve heard The Terminals since John Ziegler left the band a year or so ago. As a trio, they’ve lived on with Dave Goldberg playing the role of the band’s energizer bunny, while Liz and Brooks Hitt provide the necessary punk moxy. While those two are married in real life, it’s Dave and Liz who are the Fred and Ethel of the combo, playing off each other like bickering teen parents in a kitschy ’50s B-movie. Make that ’50s horror B-movie, as that also sums up their sound, which has evolved from a trash ’60s garage band a la Them and Pretty Things a year ago to something more closely resembling The Cramps, propelled early in the set by Goldberg’s carnival-ride organ, the same one you remember from his Carsinogents days. Goldberg has been on the leading tip of the area’s psychobilly revival sound since his days in Full Blown, and if anything, that revival is picking up steam, judging by the popularity of this band and Brimstone Howl, who played after them.
Goldberg’s organ pulled back and the guitars came forward as the set wore on, and garage punk ensued — less retro, more angry. I like Liz Hitt’s guitar solos almost as much as I like her girl-next-door-on-the-verge-of-a-homicide vocals. She didn’t look like she was having fun until she switched to keyboards (and once, to drums), her face turning heat-seeker red while pounding on that organ, while cross stage Goldberg was making his guitar bark. There was one song (I don’t know its name) where the two trade lines back and forth and it was the best moment of the evening.
Brimstone was up next, but I had to head home (some of us have to work at the crack of dawn). Opening last night was a trio called The Shanks playing quick, punchy borderline hardcore songs. Lots of yelling. A couple “Oy’s” here and there. Remarkably sloppy. Was this their first gig, I asked the promoter. Maybe, probably, he said. You never know where these things will go. They could wind up being the next Nirvana. “Now you can say you saw The Shanks first show,” I said to the guy across the table. “Yeah,” he said, “and maybe their last.”
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Tonight is a mammoth show down at Sokol Underground — Minus the Bear, Criteria, Russian Circles and The Lovekill. Minus the Bear is touring in support of Menos el Oso, the best record of their storied career. Criteria plays a home gig after months of touring the U.S. Welcome them back. Russian Circles’ 6-song Flameshovel debut clocks in at over 43 minutes — long, droning songs that build, you know the routine. Cleveland’s The Lovekill play jangular punk. 9 p.m., $12.
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