Some venues live up to their name, and The Smell is definitely one of them. An all-ages, alcohol-free punk-rock club tucked away down an alley in downtown Los Angeles, it’s the kind of place where, every time a band finishes their set, everyone stampedes for the exit to suck down fresh air (and cigarettes, which compared to The Smell are like little tobacco-scented air fresheners) like carp bobbing to the surface of a dirty koi pond. You see, besides being alcohol-free, The Smell is also air-conditioning-and-ventilation-free. Midway through Quintron and Miss Pussycat’s set, I had to stop taking pictures because my iPhone screen was filming up with the salty condensation of 300 kids’ sweat. Ew.
That being said, it was kind of the perfect place to see Quintron and Miss Pussycat do their swampy, low-tech organ rock. After opening with one of Miss P’s totally adorable puppet shows (see the video clip below for an excerpt), Quintron fired up his Drum Buddy and was off to the races, laying down thick slabs of Hammond organ over programmed beats that had the sweaty punk-rock kids moving and grooving. It was a lively 90-minute set, especially given how oppressively hot the room was, although it probably peaked too soon with a slow-burn version of “Swamp Buggy Bad Ass” that found a shirtless, sweat-slick Quintron prowling through the crowd like a wild animal, before jumping back onstage to unleash an onslaught of distorted organ and Drum Buddy glitchitude that had the place going nuts. My favorite Hawaiian shirt may never smell the same again, but it was all worth it for that one song.
Other set highlights included the Miss Pussycat vocal showcases “Banana Beat” and “Fly Like a Rat,” the super-catchy “Waterfall,” and “Ring the Alarm,” one of the best songs from the duo’s most recent album, Sucre du Savage. And regardless of what song they were playing, it was fun to watch Quintron put the Drum Buddy, an analog synth built around a light bulb and a rotating tin can, through its paces—and to watch the audience wince every time he fired up the high-beams on the Oldsmobile grille attached to the front of his organ.
Side note: Although I don’t think they were really interesting enough to merit a Weird Band of the Week pick anytime soon, opening act XBXRX do get bonus points for taking the stage dressed in what appeared to be multi-colored, half-diaper/half-toga ensembles, and playing such a ridiculously loud set that at one point, Quintron walked past me with his fingers jammed into his ears. (If my wife is reading this: Yes, honey, I wore earplugs.) Sadly, I got no pictures of XBXRX and their ridiculous ensembles, because in addition to being one of the most aromatic venues I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting, The Smell was also one of the darkest. Most of the light in the second and third pictures below came from Quintron’s Drum Buddy.
Quintron and Miss Pussycat’s tour continues all through July. More dates here. I highly recommend checking ’em out.
Oh, and did I mention there was a puppet show?