Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snappy Crotch Kicks Take On Black Market

There is good music, there is great music, there is bad music, and there is badass music, we are BADASS!!!
Band Interests
Drinkin, Smokin, Fuckin, and being somewhat of a bastard, set to music!!
Artists We Also Like
The Clash, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Rancid, Black Flag, The Descendants, NOFX, Ol' Dirty Bastard

This is what you see when you go to Snappy Crotch Kicks page. I was unsure of what to expect when seeing their show at Black Market, a bar in the Cincinnati area which hosts live music, much of it, local talent. It’s located on a slope across from The Lowbrow Palace, a prominent local live music venue. As you walk inside Black Market, low ceilings give the place a basement like feel. The black walls, well they don’t help, but it supports local art shows and has a large patio that makes up for moments of possible claustrophobia.
Tonight we’re here to see the Snappy Crotch Kicks play. They’re the last show of three bands. It’s 12:00am and everyone has a good buzz going. A tall girl in a short, short, red dress is trying desperately to be looked at. She is pretending to be a lesbian with a more than willing chubby friend in the corner. The chubby friend smiles, rubs red dress’s leg, and looks around hopefully, but no one is looking.
The Snappy Crotch Kicks are setting up as we take our seats right in front of them. Daniel and my two faithful friends Nacho, and Sarah have accompanied me in my journey of writing about the El Paso music scene. Tonight, Nacho and Sarah look at me with a little trepidation because neither of them has an appreciation for rockish music, loud heavy guitar and both tend to get a furrow between their brows and head for the bar. I smile reassuringly, although I’m not sure what to expect.
The Snappy’s are just about done setting up and the lead singer Nathan Zeller introduces the band. He seems brash in the way a punk band leader should be, and later in the week when I meet with the band he is brash, answering my questions with the same stage persona I witnessed at Black Market. When I ask where the name Snappy Crotch Kicks came from he answers, “Basically, it’s me and a friend cutting each other down. He called me a faggot sex priest, and I told him I’d give him a snappy crotch kick. It came out of joke.” The rest of the band, Tony Buonvino, Gabe Escandon and Angel Gonzalez agree laughing. Gonzalez, the drummer and founding member along with Zeller, tells, “Yeah, he came to me and said, ‘I got a name the Snappy Crotch Kicks, you wanna join up?,’ and that’s how we got started.”
The band gets started and their influences are readily apparent. Under genre on their Facebook page they list “Rowdy Rock” and they are true to their genre. Bands that come to mind are NOFX and a lighter version of Black Flag. They interact with the crowd and during one song Zeller falls on the floor bent back from the knees. It makes me uncomfortable knowing the feeling of over-stretching your body as he’s bent at the odd angle, but the crowd cheers and obvious off-duty soldiers jump and bump against each other to the music in a small make-shift mosh pit.
This seems like a long way from how the Snappy’s got started. The band has been together since 2003 and, the start was a meager one, but Zeller and Gonzalez, made the best with what they had, an acoustic guitar, an electric drum set, a computer, and one microphone. Since then, they’ve had members that have come and gone, but now it is the four members with Escandon, and Buonvino, being the newest member, who began his relationship with the Snappy’s as a fan.
When asked what the transition was like, “It was really cool, obviously, one of those things, if you dig a band, especially a local band here in El Paso. It’s hard to find somebody who’s playing some kind of music with real feeling rather than getting up there and they’re like ‘Hey look at us’. It seems like a lot of bands are doing something like that. You know, but these guys have a lot of feeling to it and you can tell they're into it and giving it their all.” Going from a fan who listened to their music to being on stage with them now, is something that is apparent in his playing. Buonvino smiles as he plays and smiles bigger when the military boys in front of him bounce against one another. This is the moment where he is a part of the machine that is Snappy Crotch Kicks.
At any show I can’t help but look around at the crowd and the people here are feeding off the energy that the Snappy’s are providing. Gonzalez is sweaty and drumming as if his life depended on it. Escandon, attentive but quiet during the interview, plays with the same silent intensity. The four together are an addition to the El Paso scene. Their sound is something that has been developed through a process Gonzalez describes when talking about the El Paso music scene, “I respect all the musicians in El Paso, because there was times when I started out, and everything is a process, you know what I mean? You just don’t come out with songs out of nowhere, it takes time, years. It takes looking like fool and going out and putting your whole soul on the line.” This is apparent in how they play and the fans here at Black Market are feeding off it.
They end their set close to 2am. Everyone is more than a little buzzed including the Snappy’s as several fans bought them shots in between songs. As they tear down their gear the people who had been jumping and bumping mull around them and sometimes get in their way as they start to carry their equipment out. But, that’s okay, because they’re the Snappy Crotch Kicks, smoking, drinking, fucking, fucking, bastards.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Royalty Rock The Lowbrow Palace

            "Their sound is like tantan tan tan tantan, right?"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well you know how The Strokes sound like tantantan tantan taran? They seem to have
that tantan tan tan tantan sound in their songs."
"Oh?" I wasn't sure I understood.
"It's not bad. I mean all bands have their sound, you know?"
"Oh, right. I get it."
Daniel and I walked up the steep hill of Robinson Ave. in the Cincinnati District. The night noise of passing by cars, disembodied laughter, and music overflowing from doorways surrounded us. Cinci, as everyone calls it, is one of the nightlife areas in El Paso, and tonight we came to see The Royalty.
We walked away from The Lowbrow Palace where we had just seen the band. Lowbrow is one of the handful of venues where you can see local bands, budding touring bands, and well-known bands. Pat Mahoney from LCD Soundsystem and Kinky will soon play there.

Tonight VRNS and Fever opened for The Royalty.  I struggle to remember which band was which. Fever was very Mana pop rock en Español, and VRN, well I did not like. They were too loud and the industrial NIN meets Yelle was too much for the small cave like interior of Lowbrow. Aside from the fact that everything looked pre-recorded, the drummer drummed lightly, the singers high pitched singing made my ears tingle in a way they didn't like.
Daniel gestured through the loudness that he wanted to smoke, his two fingers held like a peace sign to his lips, I simply shook my head and pointed to the space we were in. I didn't want to lose the space we had secured. The Royalty was next.
When they finished their set we both sighed, the tiny hairs in our ears relieved to stop vibrating from the noise.
"That was no bueno," he said to me shaking his head.
"Yeah, but it's over. The Royalty is next and you'll like them. You'll see," I nodded and
re-nodded my head reassuringly.
"How many times have you seen them?"
"This is the third time. Last two times were at Tricky Falls, but we weren't that
"What do they sound like?"
"I don't know, kinda No Doubtish, but not all of it, like their first album, Tragic
Kingdom, kinda. Retro Pop-y New Wave-yish? With a slash of rock? I don't know," I said
scratching my head, "you'll see in a bit."
The stage is nestled in the corner and rises in levels in an uneven stadium seating type style. People stand around the small areas. The cave like feeling comes from the rock walls and knowing the stage sits in the corner of what now is a dugout basement. People mull around as the band sets up, secures places, grabs last minute drinks, and bathroom breaks. I always have a couple drinks at shows, but never so many I have to go to the bathroom while the band I came to see is playing. I've never understood people who get so drunk they don't remember the show, leave in the middle to go to the bathroom, or for a trip to the bar. Only when I'm not into the band will those trips be made. When I like a band, I want to hear the music, and feel the notes as they pulse through my system, and right now I'm waiting for the The Royalty.
They quickly set up as more and more people gather around them. They are have been touring all over the country, Canada, zipping up and down to and fro, but now they're home, and it seems home is giving them a warm welcome as the people scramble to find a place to stand.
"Hello El Paso, it’s good to be home," Nicole, the lead singer says into the mic. Her voice is sweat, breathy, and genuine.
The audience claps and cheers, happy they are home too. That's the thing about El Paso; we feel the success as an extension of the city. The Royalty is sprinkling a little bit of El Paso everywhere they go, and now they are home.
"We're just gonna get right into it."
She says into the mic and they do get right into it. The band consists of five members. Nicole is the voice fronting four guys, Jesus on guitar, Mike on bass, Daniel on keyboards, and Joel on drums. At times when she sings on the small stage the guys seem to overwhelm her with their drumming and riffs, but then her voice belts out and you know that it’s just them. It’s their way of drawing you, seducing you, so before you know it your body is rocking to music.
In the crowd I watch as those closest to the stage hop and writhe to the music. Even those farthest from the stage rock their bodies back and forth. I’m standing up on the black leather seat of the booths lining the walls, a birds-eye view overlooking the band, and the crowd as they interact. The Royalty plays, gives with each song, and the crowd takes as they dance and scream, sing along to their songs.
Maybe it’s because they’re home, or maybe it’s because it’s the end of a tour that’s kept them away from home for a while, from theirs wives and dogs, boyfriends, and significant others, or their own bed, but they really play. The drummer, Joel, nursing a cold, coughs turning his head to the side in between songs, but powers through by taking sips from an amber glass to soothe his throat. This is the best part of show, where everyone loses themselves, and the band and the crowd have a relationship, even if just for a night. They bring us up, high; take us down, but just a little, because it’s the finish that counts. The end of the show has to end in a certain way, the fan, excited, wanting more but satiated.

And when the show ends? We leave wanting more but happy, glad to have been their final show for a bit, here at home.

“So, did you like the show?” I ask before taking a drink of water.
It’s after hours and we’re at Star Kitchen at a late night trendy diner.
“Yeah, it was good. They are a very cool band. It’s even cooler they are from here. I would see them again. For sure,” Daniel says nodding his head.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Have you ever bitten into a piece of bread and let it turn into a big ball in your mouth? The mixture of saliva and bread is pushed against the roof of your mouth into a doughy ball. As you try to chew it makes it difficult to swallow because the bread absorbs the excess saliva and  for a second it's hard to breathe as it continues to cling precariously to the concave flesh roof.

Trying to break the doughy mass into pieces seems out of reach as you continue to try to make a an air pocket between you and the bread, as you push your tongue against the back of your front teeth. And just when you are about to reach into your mouth, with your fingers to pull the doughy mass that feels like it's about to kill you, it comes free.

You chew it tentatively, then a little more excited because you're free of the bready mass. You chew harder because for some reason you are angry at the bread for making you feel as if you are about to die. When you swallow you are a little sad, because you realize it wasn't the breads fault. It was your fault for making a ball and pushing it against the roof of your mouth. The bread didn't do anything out of character. That's what bread does. It absorbs.