I walked into The Underground May 10 as Man Hurls Hedgehog was mid-set. The three-piece band has been around for a little more than a year and grows more confident and tighter in presentation each time I see it.
The first few times I took in a MHH show, I was disappointed by a flat quality in its sound, much of which has been remedied by the addition of new drummer Kevin Brownlee. He adds a new dimension of energetic drumming and a general investment in the band, a departure from the less-than-interested, sloppy playing of the last drummer.
Brownlee is more than competent on the drums and stays in rhythm with bassist and singer Noah Baumeister. However, Brownlee’s tendency to play solely within the bass rhythm can be tedious at times. Baumeister’s bass playing reminds me of stripped-down Fugazi-esque instrumentation: slightly mathy and definitely the main focus of the band.
Guitarist Ben Ziegler (also of punk duo Angola Farms) rounds out the trio and is behind the most interesting aspects of its songs. Slightly experimental, Ziegler’s fretwork is nothing short of unique; unfortunately, he is used too sparsely. Each time Ziegler really starts to slay a riff, he pulls back or switches what he is playing. In fact, there were many times during the set when I wished for a simple guitar rhythm rather than minimalist noodling.
Man Hurls Hedgehog is admittedly a young band, but I find myself humming its catchy jams for days afterward. I can only guess how the music will evolve, but I’m sure, once MHH nails down its style more solidly, the band will be one of the better punk-ish rock acts in town.
After a quick cigarette, I was back downstairs to catch Beautiful Stupid Radio, a band I’ve been more than excited to see. I’ve been listening to its self-titled album nonstop, plus guitarist Ted Vigil and bassist Nick Mares were members of Knowital, one of my favorite local bands from my Warehouse 21 days.
Vigil is a pop-punk mastermind. Though his vocals err off-key, Beautiful Stupid Radio maintains Knowital’s style of late-’90s pop-punk but with more mature lyrics. Perhaps because Vigil is older and wiser—or perhaps because drummer Tommy Archuleta (also of Angola Farms) adds years of punk rock experience to the mix—Beautiful Stupid Radio proves a punk band with pop tendencies can still be taken seriously.
Impressively, Archuleta shares in the vocals—no small feat when your job is to keep time. His singing reminds me of Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio, complete with interesting and elongated phrasing. Mares achieves incredible tone and nicely fills the gaps left by the absence of a second guitar.
Downstairs at The Underground, I felt like I was 15 at a punk show again, and realized that when people say you can’t go home again, sometimes they’re totally full of shit.
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