Purson with Project Armageddon and PuraPharm - Rudyard's 4/30/16
It was a fine night for tobacco sunburst and Gibson guitars as metal and psychedelia collided in a retro explosion at Rudyard's last night. The lineup was billed by some as a night of female fronted bands, and while the female fronted band tags is something of a phenomenon at the moment, you get the sense that it really doesn't mean much. All genres blur at the boundaries, and really, gender is not much of a genre. What is true is that while all three bands are fronted by individuals who demand attention, it's the bands part of the designation that leaps out at you. All three singers seem prone to strike a bit of a pose - which is an essential part of showmanship, but it's the supporting cast you wanted to pay attention to.
First up on the hit parade were PuraPharm, who were new to me and a welcome surprise. They play an intoxicating mélange of electronic, spacey beats and retro sounds. Tessa Kole is all gothic witchiness and vocal power, but it was Bassist Paul Adams who seems to be the true heart of the unit, setting a roiling serpentine groove and losing himself in it, while Davis jumper drizzled a psychedelic blues guitar threnody over the top. His slide work on Medicine Girl was particularly grin inducing. I know time is but a rubber band when you travel through space, but the set seemed all too short. I'll catch these guys again.
Next up were Project Armageddon, or rather Project Drumaggedon, who assembled an ominous Kirby Contraption on the tiny stage before us. I awaited the arrival of the Metron, but I was assured this was merely the confining cage for the percussive beast known as Ray Matthews. That he manages to engage the crowd as well as he does from inside is impressive. Now it is obvious that Doomstress Alexis commands attention, with a voice that shift from a doom growl to a theramin-keening at will, all while summoning a Steve Harris bass flurry pose. But for me the heart of the band is Brandon Johnson's sweet SG worship, dropping doomy riff after doomy riff. Again, it was a short set for Armageddon, and the crowd was ripe for more.
And so on to the main event. Purson arrived in town fresh from an unfortunate washout in Austin the night before, and it seem that the odds were still stacked against them at Rudyard's, as they seemed to have an ongoing struggle with monitors and anemic amps. But they persevered, and the double-header ofSpiderwood Farm and Leaning on a Bear really started to hit a proggy groove. If there is something to the the female fronted tag for Purson, it is only because Rosalie Cunningham has such obvious superstar charisma. it was obvious a lot of the audience were there for her, her fashion sense and her voice. Cunningham knows the power of image - see her former band Ipso Facto for proof of that - but she also brings the real goods with her band. By the time they hit the acoustic inflected The Sky Parade, guitarist George Hudson was tearing off some show stealing solos. And how they managed to get Matt Berry to sit in on drums I don't know, but he gave his all to the set. The whole band did. Ultimately the technical issues were frustrating, but only to the extent they clouded some of Purson's carnival filigree - kazoo and e-bow solos notwithstanding - they did not quell the power or the spirit.