Mayyors, Crash Normal, New Thrill Parade, Vampire Hands, Sic Alps: At D.A.M. House, Davis, CA, 4/26/08 By Benke

Aug 06, 2008

Davis, California. To those not in the loop, it doesn’t sound like a place where great rock’n’roll takes place on a regular basis. Those of us who are paying attention, though, know that it is home to one of the greatest college radio stations in the country, KDVS, and, because of this, has a solid network of underground venues at which bands local and traveling can rock the fuck out. Davis’s proximity to Sacramento and San Francisco also make it a fantastic place for touring bands to stop, get in an extra show, and cut down on the lengthy travel distances that plague the West coast. Being from Reno, it’s a mere two hour and fifteen minute drive to get to Davis, so when Attila the Hons and I, two wild-eyed Mayyors fans in our own right, heard about the shows, there was no question that we would attend both and have our collective mind blown to smithereens.

Sic Alps, unfortunately, had to cancel due to the broken appendage of one of its members, and we arrived just as Vampire Hands, their shirts sucked tight to their skin in sweat, was trucking their gear out of the house. It was an ominous sight. These dudes were drenched like they’d just been thrown fully clothed into a swimming pool. There weren’t little sweat pods at the arm pits of their shirts—their shirts were sweat pods, and so were the pants, socks, and, presumably, underpants. One guy was so wet he had to wring out his Chuck Taylors. How hot was it, exactly, in the living room where the bands were playing? We found out when New Thrill Parade took the living room floor. Outside it was in the 80s, but when seventy plus people try to jam themselves into a space made to hold seven or eight comfortably, the BTUs skyrocket and the temperature goes through the roof. Attila and I stood in the front room peering over heads and around posts to witness NTP’s shenanigans. There were at least seven people in the band and they looked like a bunch of road weary gypsies. The saxophonist wore an unsightly monkey mask through which she played her instrument, and I’m hoping that’s the reason for the awful sound that emanated from her horn. It was distractingly terrible, which isn’t to say that the rest of the band was killing it and this gal was bringing them down. On the whole, NTP was simply not my cup of joe—too much instrumental jackassery, songs that weren’t remotely catchy or memorable, “stage” antics that were self-consciously avant-tard (monkey girl stopped to shave one band member’s mustache at one point, while another masked band member lay on the floor screaming into a mic for the entirety of the set), and a general world music feel to their tunes. Granted, it was bizarre, creepy world music, but world music nonetheless; and by this I simply could not abide.

We waited outside in the relatively cool air for about twenty minutes while France’s Crash Normal got their shit together and set up their gear, then headed inside at a time when we thought their set would be getting under way. They were traveling and playing as a duo, so there was much work to be done getting the prerecorded drum tracks hooked up to the PA. The guitar player, Vincent, a tall, thin, whip of a rock’n’roller, scanned the crowd while he plugged in and tested his equipment. Charm oozed from his every pore as his eyes jumped from face to face. When he got to my side of the room, he fixed his gaze on one face in particular—mine. I looked to my left. I looked to my right. I looked back at him and he was still staring at me, a penetrating, come hither look burning into my soul and scalding it with lust. I was alarmed, disconcerted, and bizarrely flattered, but didn’t dare return it with an “are you smiling at me, you dashing, slim motherfucker” look. Blood nearly flooded my cheeks with demure embarrassment when I noticed the attractive, fit young lady standing in front of me. It all made sense in that moment. The Frenchman wasn’t gay; he was beckoning the lithe figure in front of me with his animal magnetism.

After a good twenty minutes more of fucking around with the PA and twisted coil of wires leading to the speakers (that were trod upon by the eighty or so people walking from the kitchen to the living room over the course of the night), Crash Normal was ready to slather us in a thick slime of Franco-industrial garage. The singer, Jerome, was the consummate front man, a blend of wide-eyed, Jonathan Richman-esque innocence and charmingly slick menace. His vocals seemed to grind from the speakers, a whorl of twisting distortion, without losing a sense of melody. Guitars crashed harshly over the electro beats. It was incredible to witness the combination of garage and electronic music working together so spectacularly. The crowd danced wildly in the heat and by the time the forty-five minute set was over, not a face could be found without a smile.

The Mayyors were scheduled to play last, but some behind the scenes negotiating had to take place before they could start. It was well past 10 PM, the hour that Davis’s noise ordinance kicks in, and fear that the cops might be called and the residents of the house cited were discussed (among other things). A former occupant of DAM house and mediator extraordinaire, Rick, mentioned that two people had driven down from Reno to see the Mayyors and it was decided that the show must go on. I felt honored that Attila’s and my presence was leveraged so magnificently for the betterment of the party.

The sun had long since set outside, the temperature cooled, but inside the mercury began steadily creeping towards a boiling point. John Mayyors, the band’s singer, stood in the middle of the living room, a crush of humanity forming in front of him, handing out beers to the lucky attendees, setting the tone for the demonic party that was to come. The other band members somehow made their way through the crowd, now packed tightly enough together that one could lift his feet off the floor and remain held up by the people pressed around him, plugged in, and unleashed an ungodly onslaught of mind scrambling noise like the detonation that would take place if Zeus collided full force with a nuclear warhead. Power sex basslines, inhuman, guttural, growling vocals, grotesque drum beats, and screeching, molecular guitar mayhem. Woodhouse manipulated a little black box into which his guitar was plugged like a deranged wizard, a maniacal, demonic smile slapped across his face. The rhythm section seemed to summersault violently upon itself, rolling with lockstep precision. John threw himself at the crowd, swirling with wild, freeing catharsis, somehow managing to keep his balance and sense of timing. And the heat? I won’t say it was hot, but I’m pretty sure I saw someone firing pottery on Woodhouse’s amp. By the time the set was over, Chris was laying flat on the floor, the drummer had bolted from behind the kit, and everything in the room was covered in beautiful, glistening condensation. And, to bring closure to the earlier prowling Vincent displayed, he was snuggled up closely with the girl he was staring at earlier. Well done. I will not miss another show at the DAM House.