It was an unusual venue with an unusual grouping of bands brought together for an unusual purpose. But, once everything was up and running, it all sort of made a perfect sense. On April 12, 2014, Kepi Ghoulie, Dog Party, and Dan Potthast of mu330 met up at Psycho Donuts (a "mental institution" themed donut shop) in Campbell, California and played an extended set of acoustic numbers while dozens of Bay Area artists exhibited their visual works, all with the purpose of raising money for the Santa Cruz Bigfoot Discovery Museum. Yes, you read that right.
Kicking the show off around three in the afternoon, Kepi set up in a corner of the tiny donut shop which immediately became cramped with an audience, while energetic-punk duo Dog Party flanked his right and third wave Ska godfather Potthast was to his left. For about an hour and a half, the quartet did a round robin of songs, each choosing a tune in turn with the others acting as accompaniment.
As per his usual Pee Wee Herman styled self, Kepi was boiling with energy, and throughout the set, made donut related puns and pontificated on the importance of the Bigfoot Discovery Museum. Choosing his tunes from both his acoustic tracks and electrified ones, Kepi created an interesting middle ground of songs that had the inherent delicacy of acoustic ballads, but also still maintained a rocking edge. The acoustic version of "Rock and Roll" shark particularly showed how Kepi excels at making nimble music that isn't wimpy. He also let it drop tat he's working on a Kepi Goes Country album that has just a few tracks left to be recorded, including a version of the Groovie Ghoulie's classic "Running with Bigfoot" which is about escaping to Mexico with the titular character.
Potthast seemed to focus on his newer solo material and evidenced where he a Kepi divide. Whereas Kepi seems to focus on quirky tales that hide a deeper meaning underneath, Potthast has no bones about putting his heart out on the table. Remarkably, Potthast has a gigantic, soaring voice, so while many acoustic numbers are reduced to quiet whimpering, Potthast builds his tunes into booming, monoliths, indirectly referencing the howling delivery of the pre-war bluesmen.
Dog Party, the duo of sisters Gwen and Lucy Giles, released on of the best albums of 2013, and their live performance showed why. Even more than before, the sisters are working in tandem, balancing and playing their voices off each other, at times creating the purposeful contrast of Tegan and Sara, and at others, blending into the wall of sound of the Carter family. Their tracks were culled from their last album, Lost Control and a number of covers, including a striking version of the Ramones Questioningly. With each show, this pair is getting more agile and powerful, but are retaining the raw edge essential in punk recordings. Outside the donut shop their manager said that they were working on new material, and frankly, I can't wait.
Meanwhile, as the musicians played, dozens of art pieces by bay area artists were hung around the room, each focusing on Big Foot. Kepi included a piece in his usual simple, bold style while Potthast also included a free flowing, whimsical piece. The mysterious bay area artist known simply as the mononym "GIL" included a piece which created a version of bigfoot through merging he traditional concept of the creature with a graffiti based style. Perhaps the most striking piece was by bay area artist Adam Davis. While most artists focused on the bigfoot character itself, Davis took it a step further by creating an image of the creature's foot and then creating intricate, tribal designs around the foot, many of which had hidden meaning, all using a woodburning kit and varnish.
The show ended as modestly as it began, with the musicians taking a few requests, and then winding down before mingling with the audience. It would seem that, much like punk rock, the point of Bigfoot scholarship isn't to create a performer/audience divide, but to act as a bridge between all people.
-The directors of the Bigfoot Discovery Museum were there and judging by their clothes (and the Harleys they rode to the venue on) I'm pretty sure that they are legit bikers… which rules.
-CELEBRITY FASHION WATCH: Famed Bay Area underground emcee (and member of Shinobu) Boboso was spotted wearing a vintage Wolverine cap. Mike Park of Asian Man Records wore a "Gnarboots Dance Party" t-shirt, but was later heard grumbling that it was the only band t-shirt he had bought in 20 years, while Dan P, standing nearby, heard this and immediate became dejected as Park had never purchased a shirt from mu330. Avantgarde wax spinner, DJ Coco was sited wearing a flashy, but tasteful, sarong. Meanwhile, punk rock socialite Jenn Platinum was on the scene, flashing her platinum locks and leather jacket, while giving brutally, harsh critiques to some pieces and targeted praises to others, which resulted in a bidding war on no less than three pieces.
-Learn more about Bigfoot here.