The Right Weirds in the Right Order, Reptar & Quiet Hooves @ The Firebird
Weekends can be tricky in a mid-sized city like St. Louis. Nationally touring acts tend to hit us midweek, leaving the weekends for local bands at the small venues and massive corporate bands at the arenas. This Friday night, we got a special treat at The Firebird. Athens, GA buzz band Reptar came to town to show us exactly why people won’t stop talking about their free backyard show at SXSW.
Reptar is a stunner live. The guys rigged thrift-store lamps and white rope lights behind and around the two percussionists so the back line was lit up, leaving the synths and guitars playing in the shadows. Comparisons to Animal Collective, even The Givers, fall away when the individual personalities of the performers start coming out. I can’t remember ever seeing a band so determined to make everyone in the room feel wanted and loved. Asking everyone to hold hands for a minute could have felt awkward and forced for another band, but it was a natural progression for a Reptar show, just like wearing the coonskin cap and sea captain hat fans handed up to them.
Ever hear a fantastic new album from a band you haven’t heard of, only to find out they came to town two months ago and you didn’t know? A whole lot of people will be feeling this folly on May 1st when Reptar’s first full length album “Body Faucet” (Vulgar Records) drops. This is a show review, sure, but it’s also a serious plug for this record, which might handily be the best thing you hear all year. There’s a sliver of something special missing from bands like Ra Ra Riot and The Arcade Fire, and Reptar, infused with genuine warmth and joy, eliminates the space between the audience and the stage. Being at a Reptar show is like being at a house party, no matter where they happen to be playing.
I wish I had a video of Graham turning to William to ask him a question, and William replying in a string of non-sequiturs, perfectly enunciated, and perfectly absurd. Also, the progressively more elaborate (friendly) heckling from an audience member regarding the sexiness of the band, met with blushing and aw shucksing on stage. Adorbs. I have a ton more to say about this show, but I’m cutting it short to retain my dignity. Ask me if you want more gushing prose and I will deliver it personally.
Just to be clear, Quiet Hooves is weird. Often people throw Mark Mothersbaugh out as a description for Reptar, but his influence is far heavier on Quiet Hooves. As if sheer numbers (nine band members on stage, including two trumpeters and a sax player) weren’t enough for shock and awesome, front man Julian Bozeman donned a cheap, Barbie blonde wig held on with a headband.
As a chamber pop connoisseur, it’s just not easy to pull it off live. As the result of nerves or inexperience, Quiet Hooves kind of sprinted through their material in a manic way that didn’t leave much time for processing or digestion. They were definitely weird, but intriguing, and their songs would have improved with a few more seconds between ends and beginnings and bit less of the theatrics. Do pick through their Bandcamp. You might just find something you like.