Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
I miss the first rock show on the Bruise Cruise Friday night, on account of: 1) I am finishing up a blog post; 2) I’m feeling kind of seasick. I’m later told Ty Segall was good. I’m also told a Bruiser proposed to his girlfriend during Segall’s set, with musical accompaniment from Segall’s band. Magic rides these waters!
I don’t need anything magical, just something to settle my stomach. I go with a Heineken.
That—and Thee Oh Sees’ ghost-box psych-scuzz—seems to do the trick. The prolific, polymathic San Francisco group can sound fairly different from record to record, but tonight they’re channeling their 2010 Warm Slime record—druggy, echo-chamber garage rock that bridges The 13th Floor Elevators (in that they make psychedelia that’s kind of scary and kind of soulful) and The Clean (in that their noise can boil over, but it’s always fairly organized). The songs come in three-minute bursts and as a couple of thrilling, 10-minute, brown-acid vamps. When I sit down in the back of the Xanadu Lounge toward the end of the set, photographers’ flashes light up the stage like strobes. I start thinking about El Topo. Thee Oh Sees would work well soundtracking that kind of drug-fueled, desert-deranged Western. “I believe in the summer time, oh hey-ey/I believe in the summer time,” chants the band, over and over until they reach a mind-scrambling climax.
Xanadu Lounge is a weird ad-hoc venue—it’s your typical cruise parlor, with smiling silver angels bridging each glass window. The soundboard is nested above the bar at the back of the room. Doors on either side of the stage lead to the Imagination’s adults-only deck.
The show ends, and a Carnival staffer gets on the mic and asks the Bruisers to clear out. In subtle ways, they’ve been containing the Bruise Cruise from the Imagination’s gen pop all weekend. Right now, the Imagination staffers have to set up for some non-Bruiser stand-up from comedians Happy Cole and Anthony Acosta. They don’t touch the stage’s back line, leaving the amps and PAs and drum kit and Bruise Cruise banner. Instead, they wheel out wooden panels painted to resemble a brick wall. You can’t have a comedy club without a brick wall.
Photos by Darrow Montgomery