The Renegade Rip

REVIEWNuclear Rabbit unleashes new songs with verve and intensity

Jeff Eagan

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Local act Crimson Jihad played first in a show that strangely landed the headliners Nuclear Rabbit somewhere in the middle. Several other out of town bands played including Hostile, Odzar and D.C.-area group Dog Fashion Disco. The Crimson Jihad, now a reduced trio, off from temporary hiatus, remain as technically adept and structurally sound as they always have.

I have to say I had some idealistic preconceptions before going to see them live for the first time. I hoped to myself and for Nucear Rabbit’s sake that the dank confines of Jerry’s Pizzas’ basement sullen and beer-encrusted as it was wouldn’t inhibit their performance. I was supremely glad that they were booked, but bassist Jean Baudin’s custom nine-string bass was a cocksure artifact this temple could not hold.

I think that from the first song “What Would He-Man Do?” off their new album “Mutopia” that lead singer Greg Parrish began to feel the claustrophobia. He milled through the crowd with his cordless mike. The resounding wall of sound fed every hypergesticulation of Parrish’s slender frame, escalating at every scream, grunt and howl.

It seemed the crowd inside was split between those who knew every Nuclear Rabbit song, those brought by the previously mentioned and maybe even a couple who didn’t know who the?hell they were.

This is Nuclear Rabbit’s first tour since their breakup nearly two years ago. Their appearances are on the West Coast for now, many of which are in their native Northern California. Though their sound has changed?throughout?their various mutations, it has maintained a singular cohesion that is uniquely Nuclear Rabbit. Few of the new songs echo the sound from the 28 sweet psychotic Saturday morning cartoon concoctions of their first release, “Vicuna.”

The songs on their new album seemed to be composed with more stress on vocal structure within their songs, and less of the stripped-down funk-metal spasticity of”Intestinal Fortitude” and “Vicuna.” “Shiny Button” and “Champion of the World” have parts that may sound like”Vicuna,” but stand on their own.

They should have played more of their old songs. A meager, potent dose of “My Girl’s Got Guts” and “Spork” were eagerly anticipated and earnestly received. They made me want to dance. Baudin tamed his intimidating nine-string bass with the prowess and dexterity few musicians today possess, and the many who wish they had the vision to pursue. Even after the show Baudin mused about supersizing his bass to a 17-string model. Now is deciding to go with eight more strings an arbitrary number or is there any sense to this madness?

And it was so apparent. Guitarist Pat Garner maintaned a stoic position, occasionally issuing fits of feverishly distorted sonic rage and flashing demented glances, while Sigaty frantically beat his drums into submission with a guilty grin on his face. Parrish and Baudin brandished their roles with brazen ambition, knowing their work must travel far to reach anxious, yet distant ears. Together they comprise a panoply of talent stupefyingly bombastic, undeniably disturbed.

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REVIEWNuclear Rabbit unleashes new songs with verve and intensity