Caddywhompus: 06.22.2011

There are not many hard and fast principles when comes to seeing live music, but three rules seem to universally apply:

1. Drink your ass off at free shows
2. Buy merch from out-of-town acts
3. Always catch a local band at their first show back from tour

In the case of the show at the Big Top on June 22, all three applied. New Orleans noise pop band Caddywhompus, fresh off the first leg of their biggest road trip yet (one that included dates with burgeoning Lafayette band GIVERS), were briefly back in town to join California’s electrifying A Billion Ernies in kicking off the Community Records Summer Tour. ABE’s incredibly metal “Dolphin” tee made perfect fodder for Rule #2; and although the show wasn’t technically free, the modest cover charged at local venues is becoming more and more of a steal as the live prowess of Caddywhompus seems to grow exponentially by the day.

The rain-soaked crowd of young punks, mathrock lovers and indie fans – all recently infatuated with the duo’s confounding, seamless meld of moving melodicism, angular and avant-garde guitar work, and pummeling drum freak-outs – were practically foaming at the mouth to see what is, for all intents and purposes, the best band in the country.  Members Sean Hart and Chris Rehm seemed to realized this and appeared determined to one-up even their memorable performance at this year’s Block Party.

Though the tour from whence they’d just returned took them to far-reaching places (including Denver, where Rehm’s backpack containing a hard drive full of unreleased albums was stolen from their van), Caddywhompus showed no signs of fatigue. Instead, they appeared completely reenergized, bringing with them a swagger uncharacteristic for even these heroes of noise-pop: Hart had never been more intense or in time, nailing even the crashiest passages with precision and fluidly improvising through the occasional drumstick break or guitar strap malfunction.  Rehm, in turn, bobbed his head in perfect lockstep with the rhythm and made frequent trips to his stack to crank up the volume or catch huge waves of artfully applied feedback.  One curious consequence of the band’s newly-pronounced dynamism was the the transformation of the first half of “The Focus” – one of The Weight’s more straightforward moments – into what may have been the most brutally rewarding spectacle I’ve ever witnessed at a rock show.

The laid-back closing medley of Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” and Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” capped a perfect example of why you should never miss a homecoming performance. Playing dozens of shows over consecutive days in front of geographically diverse audiences has the exact effect on a band’s music as you may expect: new songs sound more accomplished, old songs sound refreshed, and the band bleeds comfort and confidence from having learned the kinds of lessons about their music and themselves that only the road can teach.

photo courtesy of Connor Keyser

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