We’ve been on a boat all weekend—it begs constant acknowledgement. And to be sure, there is plenty meta-commentary. Ian Svenonius is almost nothing but.
My favorite such moment comes Saturday night, midway through the Bruise Cruise’s stop at Señor Frog’s, the garish cancer of a tourist destination that is host to the weekend’s biggest musical showcase. Vivian Girls take the stage. They mention they’ve learned a cover. In come Cassie Ramone’s plangent, surfy guitar strums—at this point I’m expecting “Don’t Worry Baby”—and then a familiar line: “Every night in my dreams/I see you, I feel you/that is how I know you go on…” The crowd—Bruisers, to be sure, and the douchebags and fratgirls that are Señor Frog’s regulars—flips out. The band is fucking wailing. It’s sweet. It’s sweetly cinematic. It’s a reminder that large sea vessels sometimes split in half and are later made into abhorrently lucrative films by James Cameron. It should be grating but I’m smiling.
The first thing you smell in Señor Frog’s is ass. The first thing you see is a conga line, in which men are groping women and women are groping men. The procession passes under a Señor Frog’s waiter, who pours liquor down people’s throats.
In other words, Señor Frog’s is a boil that ought to be lanced off of the earth. Svenonius takes the stage in a red suit. “All right, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Mr. Frog’s,” he says, and rattles off the slate of performers. “This is a very historic occasion. They’re here on a mission of liberation, They’re here to liberate you from that frog and replace it with a Taco Bell.” Later in the evening, a Señor Frog’s hypeman who sings along to the Top 40 played between rock sets and liberally pours shots for front-of-the-crowd revelers, replaces Svenonius on MC duties.
Still, the sets are solid: Turbo Fruits’ four-person take on the ‘60s power trio, The Strange Boys’ degraded art-glam, Vivian Girls’ playful garage pop, The Black Lips’ lumbering, sing-along acid punk. One note, to be expanded upon later: The crowd in Señor Frog’s, on the whole, seems a lot more taken aback by the Bruisers than the crowd on the Imagination, even though most of tonight’s acts are actually fairly conservative: They all trade in variations of primitivist rock ‘n’ roll.
I strike up a conversation with two Dutch seamen who work on an industrial tugboat. They’re standed in Nassau while they wait for more work, and have been coming to Señor Frog’s almost every evening for close to two weeks. Tonight is different.
I ask them if they like the music. “It sucks,” says one, quickly adding a caveat: He enjoyed “the band with the chicks.”
He mentions their boat has lots of Russian crew. “The Russian are very melodramatic. They’re kind of like indie people.”
Photos byDarrow Montgomery