Live Review: Nashville Pussy and Black Lamb at Larimer Lounge

Categories: Concert Reviews
Photo: Tom Murphy
The triumphant return of Karen Cuda and Nashville Pussy.

Nashville Pussy w/Black Lamb
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Larimer Lounge
Better Than:
The latest generation of neo-Southern rock bands.
Click here for a slide show.

I missed Holly 750 thanks to the naked bike ride demonstration going on downtown. That’s the kind of stuff you can’t make up. Not that would I want to disrupt something like that, whose cause I fundamentally support. Anyhow, by the time I power walked to Larimer, Black Lamb was already on stage.

Photo: Tom Murphy
Practice space? Black Lamb don't need no stinking practice space.

Apparently Brian Hagman and company have been without a practice space for months, but you wouldn’t know it from the band’s performance this night. Maybe it’s the regimen of regular shows that keeps the members in practice, but I think they actually worked out some nuances in their songs that are best hammered out in front of an audience. Not so long ago, I used to hear these guys two or more times a week in the warehouse next to where I live, hashing out their songs and sometimes wondering if they came up with new material. All such thoughts were banished when I finally saw them live.

This time out, the guys looked like they were having fun, and Tim Vigil offered up some great one-liners throughout the show—like he’s the band’s comedian or something. Unfortunately, I think a lot of his jokes were lost on the bulk of the audience. “The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Problem” was prefaced with Vigil telling the audience “This is for you drug addicts out there or even just for you people who like drugs.” It was much darker and more psychedelic than I remember hearing both live and endlessly at rehearsals, taking on an almost chilling edge for a band that doesn’t really deal in that kind of musical vibe.

Lamb has always been arguably the best stoner rock band going almost anywhere but its sound has evolved and the band clearly has a keen grasp of dynamics and displays restraint rather than just bludgeoning the with a wall of slow, sludgy and punishing sound. Hagman was, as usual, the charismatic maniac, singing full tilt, looking almost like a thilocene with how wide his mouth would open to belt out his intensely harrowing lyrics. The group finished with a cover of Shellac’s “Prayer to God.” Shellac? Yeah, even stoner rock guys don’t just sit at home and listen to an endless parade of Sleep, the Sabians, High on Fire, Turbonegro and Kyuss all day. A killer ending, no referential pun intended, to another impressive set.

Photo: Aaron Thackeray
Cuda's playing has added a new dimension.

Before tonight, I’d never seen the version of Nashville Pussy including Karen "Cuda" Exley. She has really added a new dimension to an already great rock- and-roll band. Without any need to brag, the outfit launched its set with “Struttin’ Cock.” Having seen the act a couple of times before, once with Motorhead, I didn’t necessarily want to like a band with such a crude, white trash, shitkicker aesthetic. Anyone who loves high energy rock-and-roll, however, can’t help but love this act, especially live. Not many rock bands can pull off blistering guitar solos and not look like self-indulgent idiots. But that’s just the thing with Nashville Pussy—it never comes off as self-indulgent.

Photo: Aaron Thackeray
Blaine Cartwright tears it up.

Over the course of its set, Pussy careened and laid into each song with an impressive fire and fury even though it didn’t take the stage until just before midnight. The outfit has a well deserved reputation as one of the greatest rock bands in the world, which it maintained one absolutely riveting, ass-kicking, barn burning song after another. We were even treated to new songs like “I’m So High (I’ve Got to Look Down to See the Sky)” and “Lazy Jesus.”

Photo: Aaron Thackeray
Nothing like a sweaty night with some fine Pussy.

Blasphemous, hard drinkin’, hard livin’ songs about personal liberation and not knowing any better than to continue abusive, self-destructive lifestyles, even when you know they’re bad for you -- that was the order of the day. And yet, the band played those songs in a way that made you feel alive and on fire. Some people called out for “Ace of Spades” for the final song, but Exley buried that suggestion by saying they were at the wrong show and then kicking into a version of “Go Motherfucker Go” that ended with guitarist Ruyter Suys laid out on the floor making squelching feedback. She eventually crawled off the stage as though she didn’t have an ounce of energy left – and who could blame her after such an incredibly passionate performance?

Photo: Aaron Thackeray
Ruyter Sus turned in an impassioned performance.

-- Tom Murphy

Set List
1. Struttin’ Cock
2. Shoot First and Run Like Hell
3. High As Hell
4. Ain’t Yer Business
5. Come On Come On
6. Good Night for a Heart Attack
7. I’m So High (I’ve Got to Look Down to See the Sky)
8. Hate and Whiskey
9. Speed Machine
10. She’s Got the Drugs
11. Nutbush City Limits
12. Snake Eyes
13. Rock ‘N’ Roll Outlaw
14. The Bitch Just Kicked Me Out
15. Lazy Jesus
16. Going Down Swinging
17. Go Motherfucker Go

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I’m a longtime Nashville Pussy fan and a fan of Karen Exley’s bass playing.
Random Detail: There were a lot of people who looked like they just flew in from Branson, Missouri at the show.
By the Way: Nashville Pussy just recorded an album at Willie Nelson’s studio but it probably won’t be out until next year because of “record label bullshit.”

This is the sixth of thirty-five consecutive shows that Tom Murphy is planning on attending. His whole idea is to prove that there's cool stuff going on any night of the week in Denver, if you bother to make any effort whatsoever to find it. He suggested naming this series, "This Band Could Be Your Life," a fitting designation to be sure. Since there's already a similarly titled book, however, we opted to file these entries under Last Night's Show -- you know, to avoid being sued an all. (Sorry, Tom.)

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