You will have to excuse me for not grasping the full awesomeness of Caddywhompus after seeing them live for the first time. Night had just fallen on the 2010 Community Records Block Party and shit was starting to get weird: I was in the midst of an uncomfortable buzz – the result of washing down the newly released KFC Double-Down “sandwich” with a flask of Jameson – and the volunteer staff of the event was hard at work scrubbing blood off the outdoor stage after a member of Brunt of It’s horn section split his own face open with a microphone during their furious set.
I was out of my element, which is not to say that there was anything wrong with what was going on around me. As their fantastically well organized and well attended Block Parties prove, Community Records is one of New Orleans independent music’s greatest assets. But some of the bands playing that day were a bit heavy for my taste, the crowds were indescribably exuberant , and by the time Caddywhompus started playing, I was a tired, frightened and altogether broken man who wasn’t really paying much attention to anything.
After the Block Party, Caddywhompus set off on a string of tours to promote their first full length album, Remainder, and I didn’t get another chance to catch the two-man noise pop factory until the fall. When our paths finally crossed again, it was as the band was helping Sun Hotel bacchanalize their own full length debut at One Eyed Jacks. There they dazzled the crowd with a viceral set of psychedelic lo-fi anthems that would have stole any other show on any other night.
But what elevated the One Eyed Jacks performance beyond simply a rock show that rocked is the fact that I saw them at the Big Top not a week later, and although it took me a few minutes to fully realize, the show they played that night was better than the one I saw just days before. The trend continued a few months down the road as they rattled the Circle Bar with a string of vertigo-inducingly loud but at the same time melodic, intricate and eerily comforting tunes.
At The Saint, it was more of the same. Following a raucous set by Minneapolis based freak-out folk outfit Sleeping in the Aviary, Chris Rehm and Sean Hart proceeded to break guitar strings, knock crash cymbals off their stands and test the limits of even industrial grade earplugs. It was all tension-filled controlled chaos as they powered through some as-yet-untitled new jams and road-tested staples like “Guilt”, “Fun Times At Whiskey Bay”, and “Let The Water Hit The Floor”. It didn’t take long before I was struck with what has now become a familiar feeling.
Sure, the band’s newer songs sound tighter and more realized each time they are played, but so do their older ones. And while it should come as no surprise that a constantly touring/writing/recording band has a tendency to get better over time, Caddywhompus’ growth seems almost exponential, not to mention still glaringly obvious regardless of the high esteem in which they are held.