The stars aligned in a sinful sort of way this past weekend when warm weather coincided with the 4/20 holiday. I spent the evening at Bender’s for a night billed as: KUSF-in-Exile’s Blown Out, Blowout Benefit show.
And yes, someone’s old “magic” cookies found their way out of a deep freeze and made the rounds. But no cookie could steal the spotlight from any of the bands Friday night, especially Uzi Rash.
Cool Ghouls went second after Chen Santa Maria and seemed to pack in a younger crowd than maybe this Mission bar is used to. Mid-performance the power briefly went out, but they handled it quite professionally, even obliging an audience member’s request for a drum solo. Their set was solidly psych and they passed out a three-song sneak peak of their upcoming debut album. After the kids cleared out, Uzi Rash took to the stage as the headlining act.
For the most part, I was swept away by their driving beat, both pulsating and deafening. Cody Blanchard (of Shannon and the Clams) stood his ground, nonchalantly strumming his guitar. Not to say he was simply going through the motions; his demeanor just gave the impression of stage confidence. The drummer worked up a frenzy, flailing his arms with sticks in hands. But the showmanship was about to kick up a notch.
At one point, I looked towards the floor at my red, mucked-up Chuck Taylor’s, bopping my head blissfully. When I raised my glance out of release, I noticed that front person Max Nordlie now had blood dripping from his forehead.
I was too busy grooving and had missed the moment of impact. I’d seen Nordlie do this at least once before, where he takes the mic and punishes himself with it. I’ve seen portrayals of demonic possession, or perhaps this is his catharsis, but that’s what it resembles when his body contorts from his expressive face, down to the sea-green painted toenails.
Of course he’s belting it out pretty good the whole time riffing on Dylan songs with the Maggie’s Farm-sounding “I Don’t Wanna,” off Uzi Rash's latest LP Whyte Rash Time. Aforementioned cookie ingested, things kind of blurred as the night wore on, but if memory serves me right, I do believe he also attempted to hammer a shoe to the wall.
The set was swift and severe and the looks on the faces of those who stuck around when the blood started to flow was priceless. It was sort of somewhere between pro-wrestling and East Bay rock'n'roll. I guess if it’s not worth bleeding for, you might as well go home.