LIVE: Wussy @ the Low Beat, 7/9/16


Review by Steven Stock

Wussy can do anything! In a majestic return visit to the Low Beat the swirling 21st century psychedelia of “Little Paper Birds” soon gave way to the gothic horror story “She’s Killed Hundreds.” The primal stomp of “Sidewalk Sale” would’ve been right at home on Lenny Kaye’s original Nuggets compilation, but like much of Wussy’s set it actually hails from their recent Forever Sounds LP. So does “Better Days,” a lovely ballad that evokes the early-’90s heyday of shoe-gazing bands. Wussy can do anything!

A five-piece outfit from Cincinnati, Wussy has been making great records for over a decade: seven albums, three EPs and four singles. Founding member Chuck Cleaver and guitarist John Erhardt go back even further, having spent much of the ’90s with the Ass Ponys. Robert Christgau adores Wussy, and they’ve been featured on “CBS This Morning” and NPR. Those of us who love them think they should be rich and famous, traveling by jet rather than in an overstuffed van – but if they were, would they still write songs as wonderful as “Sidewalk Sale”?

The amply-bearded Cleaver looks like a mountain man, more apt to tell you which mushrooms are safe to eat and which have magical properties rather than playing mesmerizing guitar licks while covering the first singles by the Twinkeyz (“Aliens in Our Midst”) and New Order (“Ceremony”).

But it’s really the contributions of Lisa Walker that make Wussy so damn great, as her lovely voice soars above and then intertwines with Cleaver’s, like Richard and Linda in the ’70s or Exene and John in the ’80s. She’s no slouch on guitar either, and writes songs like the enigmatic “Majestic-12.”

The opening acts deserve some recognition as well…

Sky Furrows was intriguing: Karen Schoemer reciting lyrics (poems, really) while Mike Griffin’s trebly guitar attack cut through the rhythm section’s doom-laden maelstrom. Think a less-angry Lydia Lunch fronting early Public Image Limited, tripping.

Washington D.C.’s the Paranoid Style previewed their new Bar/None album Rolling Disclosure in fine style, playing rock music for thinking people. Amidst all the sturm und drang they snuck in a lovely version of Graham Parker’s “You Can’t Be Too Strong.” Unexpected, and very cool…

Little Paper Birds
Dropping Houses
She’s Killed Hundreds
Sidewalk Sale
Pizza King
Better Days
To the Lightning
Hello, I’m a Ghost
Aliens in Our Midst
Teenage Wasteland

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