The night opened with Lutzilla, a duo that evolved from Lutz Steinbrück and his prior band Neustadt. Lutz appeared on guitar and vocals with Florian on drums. Florian’s kit was quite minimal, with only one tom-tom and one cymbal, but the tightness of his performance boosted the songs substantially. The shifting rhythms were well-synchronized between the guitar and drums, which did much to ground and stabilize them. The percussion also significantly energized the songs, and several even had a punk edge to them.
Atomvulkan Britz is a duo consisting solely of bass and drums. Their sound was noisy and punky and yet quite rhythmic and had a sense of post-punk experimentation. The bassist relied on effects to drive his style as much as the rhythms and riffs themselves, including thickly distorted fuzz, heavy phasing, and the characteristic chorus sound of Simon Gallup of The Cure and Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order. The drummer also had a dub-like delay on his snare that somehow managed to be a focal point of the set. The effect came in and out, and I’m not even quite sure who was triggering or controlling it, but it lent an unexpected and otherworldly tone to their sound. The lack of vocals or explicit melody was unconventional, but their energy and creativity kept my attention nonetheless.
Last up was BUM, a quartet of guitar/vocals, bass/backing vocals, drums, and synthesizer. They too were intently rhythmic and punky, but they took their music in a variety of directions. The foundation was post-punk funk à la Gang of Four or the Au Pairs, but there were plenty of louder, noisier sections more akin to post-hardcore. The wild creative energy of the drummer and the insistent propulsion of the bass really drove the songs, but the keyboards added a nice extra layer of texture. The vocalist was more focused on the words than his guitar, but when he did play, it was sharp and angular. His style was also somewhat textural and didn’t fit neatly into a “lead” or “rhythm” category. For one song, he read a poem over the music, but unfortunately that was the only time I could consistently understand the lyrics. The intensity of their set was such that when they had to pause for an extended tune-up, it was actually a refreshing break. Nonetheless, they carried me with them.
Tr*ckstr isn’t the easiest venue to find, and it clearly tries to maintain an air of mystique, but once you’re in, it feels cozy and punky. The sound isn’t particularly detailed, but it’s loud and the atmosphere is good. If the line-ups are regularly this solid, I’ll be back, even if it means reeking of smoke afterwards.
P.S. Thanks to Lutz, Ulri, Tim, and Brooke!