The Phenomenauts are a space-themed rockabilly group. Visually, they're great. They wear 1950's-ish, Soviet-ish outfits that are intended to evoke Cosmonaut uniforms. They have a stand-up base and all the instruments are painted red with black trim. One of the members of the band wears a helmet with a large antenna. He uses this to "pick up space transmissions".
They say things like "We're a local band. We're from Earth." and in my favorite exchange between bandmembers "I've been picking up space transmissions and other planets are saying that THEY'RE the best!" "What? Well, we know that's not true! Earth is the best!" He then turns to the audience and says "When I say Earth, you say Is the best! Got it?" and they launch into a great song about how the other planets suck and Earth is the best. They brought out a large balloon of Earth and 1/2 way through the song they threw it into the audience. When it hit the ceiling, it burst and showered everyone in confetti.
Speaking of throwing paper on the audience, they later had a leaf-blower that was modified to hold a roll of toilet paper on the end in front of the stream of air and used this to shoot fragments of paper into the audience. When it ran out, there was a quick-change mechanism that let him put a new roll on in under 2 seconds and continue showering the audience with paper.
The music was great and the show was lots of fun. Sadly, their cds aren't mixed as well as the show was and the vocals are swallowed up by the music. The mixer seems to think all sounds need to be at the same level and it gives them a washed out sound. They're still worth having though! I bought all their CDs (2.5) and a shirt.
The Epoxies were a strange band. They look like Siouxie Sioux fronting Devo. They sound a bit like that too. They had the opposite problem from the Phenomenauts, the show was badly mixed, but the CDs are just right. The lead singer is named Roxy Epoxy (I like the "old school" touch) and talked to the audience quite a bit. She kept asking them to wave their hands or fingers in specific ways and giggled quite a bit when they did. She danced constantly during the show, kind of like a bizarre mix of Belinda Carlisle and Iggy Pop. The band wore Devo-esque outfits with lots of horizontal stripes. She wore strange, red eyeshadow in a raccoon-like mask and a green, corsety top with black pants & boots.
Both these opening bands had lots of Moog or Moog-inspired synthesizers and solid guitars. During her banter with the audience (less than the other two bands, but still a pleasing amount) she pointed out that her parents were in the audience and she waved to them in the back. We'd seen her outside hugging them and rubbing her mom's head before the show, so they were easy to pick out. She didn't seem inhibited in the least by their presence. They didn't have a good shirt in my size, so I'll likely order off the web. I tried to buy all their cds, but they gave me 2 of 1 of them, so I'll have to get the newest one off the web as well.
Ah, The Aquabats, is there anything they can't do? This is the reason I went to the show and, if anything, my hopes and expectations were exceeded by this great performance. They play in full costume, they have video images on constantly in the background, some of which fit the music and others that are surreal like the shot of driving past a sign that says "Stalin is the Leader". During the song "Tiger Rider vs. The Time Sprinkler" they showed footage from what I can only assume was a Japanese Superhero movie about a man with a tiger head that shoots lightning from his hands. I NEED to see this movie. At the very least I want to find out what it is!
The whole show was done as though it was a kids tv show. Early in the show, the Space Mummy and White Buffalo come out to stop the show. Yes, there were in a mummy costume and a white buffalo costume. After they announce that they're there to stop the show, the Aquabats say "Oh no, what can we do to stop them" and all hunker down behind instruments and the lights go out. You hear "The Aquabats will be back after these messages" and a commerical plays on the screen. It is a commercial for the Aquabats pudding belt! After the commercial, they stnad up, the lights come on and they fight the Space Mummy and White Buffalo, defeating them handily.
Later, after a few more songs, A strange mud creature comes out, M.C Bat Commander (the lead singer in his hero costume that includes blacked out teeth and a drawn on mustache) kicks him and defeats the "monster". At this point an "Aquabats Technician" in a lab-coat that proclaims him as such, comes out and says "But this is Mud Boy, he's your biggest fan and he just wanted to say hi!"
Bat Commander is so upset that he quits the band and the only way to get him back is for the audience to show its love for him by holding their arms over their eads in a giant "O", the universal sign of Aquabat love apparently. He comes back and they sing "Lovers of Loving Love". The Audience also knew a way to hold their fingers to make a Aquabat symbol which is quite complex.
I should point out that around half of the audience was dressed in Aquabats masks, capes, hats/helmets or strange other costume including clowns and a giant twinkie. I have also never seen an ENTIRE club floor explode into a Mosh Pit before. There was a landing to stand on (where we were) to stay out of the way, and I know it was a small club, but it was still impressive. When the Moshing was in full stride and there were people surfing, Bat Commander told everyone that if someone puts his feet in your face, you should take his shoes, take them home and put them on EBay. "Because you're an American!"
There was one more villain to come out "Cobra Man" who dressed like a man with a giant cobra head and a cobra for a hand. Though Bat Commander made sure he was really a villain before attacking him, he lost the fight and they only managed to get rid of him with a saxaphone solo. While Bat Commander lay dying (paralized from his forehead down), it was obviously time for another commercial. This time it was for Aquabats-foot-vapo-rub and leeches. When the commercial ended, Bat Commander was saying his goodbyes and thanked us for believing in him. This inspired the other Aquabats with an idea to save him. We all had to believe! And they started playing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey. We all had to sing to get Bat Commander back on his feet. It worked and we all sang the whole song. All I could think of was how hagbardc should have been there.
When they left the stage and came back for an encore, they kept making fun of the whole process. "Never before in the history of the Earth have we left the stage and then come back on! That should be called something! What a great idea! What should it be called?" *audience member* - "An Encore" *Bat Commander* - "What's that? Hardcore? Great!" and he called it a Hardcore for the rest of the show. Repeatedly.
They closed with Pool Party and Awsome Powers. During Pool Party he kept telling the audience "Wave your hands in the air. Scream! Put your thumbs on top of your head!" and culminated in "Now do this!" and he fell on the floor. One person did. He tried again and no-one did. He concluded with "My powers are weak..."
They also played Chemical Bomb and Martian Girl. (Super Rad, several other songs from the new album and more were also played). During Martain Girl, he kept showing us how to make a "W" and an "O" with our fingers to go along with the "WO wo wowowo" in the song. This routing went on with amusing variation for at least 5 minutes. He pandered to the local Boston audience and the fact that the Red Sox were playing across the street at that very moment. (They were too!)
As I had all their CDs, I bought a shirt and and uniform short. The Aquabats Uniform shirt is spandex. I wonder if I'll ever wear it...
In all, this was a wonderful experience and I'm going to be looking for all three of these bands playing in the area again.
If I forgot anything, please add it in the comments!