GnarBoots - Live in Berkeley (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Live in Berkeley (2012)

live show

GnarBoots made one thing abundantly clear at their show at 924 Gilman in Berkeley, Calif.: They are there to assault the concept of a live show, the audience and even music itself. Although they played to no more than 25 people, throughout their May 18 show, they made it a point to interact with every single one there.

The band began its set as a power trio. After cutting through two punkish rockers, they ditched their instruments and began to rap and sing over an iPod backing track. Then, after the song concluded, they announced that they had broken up and left the stage.

The audience seemed fairly unfazed as short sets are not particularly surprising at 924 Gilman, especially when there are eight bands on a bill. The house lights went on and people resumed their conversations. They seemed to have forgotten the band as quickly as the set had ended.

The band then returned to the stage and announced that to accommodate consumer demand, they had reformed. The problem was that the sound board technician had left his station. Adam Davis, GnarBoots' guitarist, had to seek him out and demand that the set resume. Finally, the band re-ignited.

Their second formation was somewhat different from the first. For the majority of the set, while their electronic backing track rumbled across the PA, all three members left the stage and jumped through the audience, at times pressing their own cheeks against unsuspecting spectators, thrusting their pelvises in the general direction of the closest target, or in my case, crawling between one's legs and simulating either a birthing process, rough sex or a likely illegal combination of both.

The audience reaction was as varied as the band's musical styles. Some viewers joined in on the chaos, and entered the vacant stage in an attempt to usurp the concert. Others tried to make themselves small to avoid the gaze of GnarBoots, only to find themselves the target of drummer Aaron Carnes' thrusting. One particularly punk looking fellow, who stayed for half the concert, shouted to himself, and I quote, "This is bullshit!" before stomping out the venue's side door.

The selection of music itself was an interesting choice. While the band recently released a fairly cohesive LP, A.L.B.U.M., they played but a few songs from that release and focused on their electronic hip-hop mashes, such as the '80s bating "Fantasy" and the ode to self control "I Ain't Gonna Pee Pee My Bed Tonight." Bassist Bob Vielma took the mic for some of his solo hip-hop tunes as Boboso, while the band's other two members cheered him on, perhaps to accommodate the look of shock and confusion prevalent on most audience members' faces.

Before leaving the stage, the band took one final swipe at audience expectation by announcing that they had one song left, but that it would be played outside. The band did not play a final song outside.

Random notes:

-A taco truck identifying itself as "El Diablo" has taken up residence outside 924 Gilman. DAMN GOOD $5 BURRITOS.

-That guy who stormed out was genuinely furious. Now THAT's punk.

-Listen people, I know abusing bathrooms is fun and all that, but at least TRY to be responsible in the little boys room. Someone has to clean that up. Ugh.