Pompoir and Death Sentence: Panda!: At 21 Grand, Oakland, CA, 2/8/10 By Federico

Mar 30, 2010

I went to a really good show the other day when my younger sister was still in town. I wanted to take her out to see some music while she was here. The previous Friday, when both my sisters were here, we went to see Extra Action Marching Band, which was nice, despite the fact that one of the opening bands was very, very, very uninteresting to me. Don’tcha hate that? Of course, that’s the way it goes. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you go outside and wait ‘til the band is over.

Although I’ve been wanting to check it out for some time now, this was my first time at 21 Grand http://www.21grand.org/ in Oakland, CA. 21 Grand is an “interdisciplinary art space” that holds art exhibits and also has bands play. On this particular night, they were raising funds for Haiti relief, and numerous different bands and labels donated CDs, records, and other merchandise for fundraising. Nice!

When we got there, the band Pompoir (www.myspace.com/pompoir) from Vancouver, BC was about to play. I may be a bit naïve, but I only just learned what “pompoir” means:

(From Wikipedia):“Pompoir (also known as "playing the flute") is the practice of stimulating the man's penis solely through use of the woman's vaginal muscles. Both partners remain still, and the woman strokes the man's erection by rhythmic, rippling pulses of the PC muscles.”    


Anyway, I hadn’t heard Pompoir prior to the show, but I really liked them. A three piece. They are one of those annoying bands where everybody plays everything: the bassist sings and also plays drums, the drummer sings and also plays guitar, the guitarist also plays bass. Fine! Mix it up a bit.

I heard a lot of different things going on with them, but one major similarity I would make (and my sister also commented upon) is to Sonic Youth. Not in a boring, sound-just-like-‘em way, but just in an influential sense. I was occasionally also reminded of some really old Nirvana. Never super fast, they had some interesting switch ups and could get nice and heavy. I liked it when they played longer songs and just went off for a bit. And I liked that even though they weren’t super over-the-top bizzaro. They definitely threw some weirdness in there when you may not have been expecting it. Thanks! The two singers (male and female) sang together and separately. Aside from some of the guitar, the vocals were where I heard some of the strongest Sonic Youth similarities, particularly the female vocals.

There was also something happening that I thought reminded me of Christian Death (from Only Theatre of Pain times. I can’t say I know much of anything about their later stuff but I did love that record). You know how you’ll be listening to a band and there is something happening—the guitar sound or the singer’s voice or whatever—that totally reminds you of something else, but you can’t put your finger on it? And it’s just there, it’s right on the tip of your tongue; it’s just out of reach? Well that was happening to me throughout Pompoir’s whole set. And I couldn’t get it! Oh, it was aggravating. I was feeling quite positive that it was from a certain time frame, I thought, “It’s from when I was young, around fifteen or so. What was I listening to? Lydia Lunch? No, that’s not it…”, and I just couldn’t get it! Totally driving me crazy. Finally, towards the end, I thought I got it. Christian Death! That’s it! I told my sister and she did not see what I was talking about at all. Then when I got home and listened to their record, I didn’t know what I was talking about either. Damn. Maybe it was Lydia Lunch.

Regardless, I really liked them, pleasantly surprised, very much enjoyed their set. Wish there would have been more people around to see them. They also seemed quite nice and friendly and I like the record I picked up (Exploding Time 1-sided 12"), although one song has a skip in it and I am bummed out about that!

Death Sentence: Panda! (deathsentencepanda.blogspot.com/) was up next. They are a totally excellent, I guess “experimental,” band from San Francisco. I have seen them a few times before and I thought my sister would dig them. It seems crazy to me that they don’t always draw at least a relatively big crowd. I think the 21 Grand show was one of the best times I have seen them.

Also a three piece, they are made up of a drummer, a guy who plays clarinet (but with all kinds of crazy effects on it), and a woman who plays flute, xylophone, and theremin. They are weird and fantastic. The singer (who’s also in the awesome band T.I.T.S.) has a sweet voice which lends itself nicely to shrieking and shouting. The flute is like some kind of dainty butterfly in a strange, cacophonic forest. The drummer keeps a steady beat. I love when he brings the jungle. The clarinet can sound super bassy, sometimes quite menacing. Most of the time, I can’t even tell what’s going on with it. Actually, maybe the clarinet makes the forest the flute is twinkling around in that scary, haunted one that Dorothy had to go through on her way to the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle to get her broomstick. It’s a possibility. And who even really plays the theremin? An interesting, original, and fun band.

After poking around a bit, I learned that this band Shearing Pinx played a show with Death Sentence: Panda! sometime last year. Looks like one of the singers from Pompoir was/is in the Shearing Pinx. Ah, ha! Man, I am out of the loop (but the loop’s just so big). It’s all coming together, and now, a trip to the record store (or a journey through the online world of mailorder—seriously, is there anything much nicer than having a new record waiting for you when you get home?) is apparently in order.