Attacking the Beat

by Eric Lastname

I think the Hunches are the greatest band in the world. If you disagree, you are wrong. Their singles are tops, their album's a beast, their demos are gold and their live show, no matter what anyone else says, is more intense, more frantic and more explosive than anyone else's right now.

I've personally seen them dominate two multiple-band fest-things in the past year or so. First one was the last Chicago Blackout; second one was the In the Red showcase at SXSW this past March.

Austin is a funny town. Funny and hot. And, like most collegiate towns, full of bullshit, full of false buzz. The great thing about the Hunches is that they still seem to thrive in this environment, because it takes them approximately half a second to destroy it and make it their own: an unhealthy, contemptuous landscape, a strong vibe of discontent therein.

They opened the floodgates with "Static Disaster." It occurred unpredictably. A massive, dark, foreboding figure took the stage, inconspicuously at first. Just himself. Few knew what was happening. Barmaids and scenesters and scenemakers and etc., backs to the front, talked amongst themselves, unaware of the ruckus that would occur in the moment following. The figure yelped incomprehensible incantations as the rest of the band took stage and tore into the opening chords. They forced the beat upon the crowd, who now took notice.

Before the first chrorus, they had steamrolled the stage into a ruin of cords, a web of black, piles of finished and full drink, cig butts, litter, moving, always moving, unfettered by their own self-destructive explosions, above and beyond the crowd's now apparent insanity, guitarist Chris and vocalist Hart slicing through each others' epileptic fits and temper tantrums with an incisive element of musical tautness that seemed supernatural for a band of such frenetic live activity. Bassist Sarah off to the side, almost impervious to the spectacle that occurred just feet away from her, banging a throbbing pulse with both arms on guit and feet on floor. Ben behind the skins, powerhouse all the way, elbows up, solidly bashing primal thump.

As they continued on, Hart hit the floor. He lay offstage, blurting and bleating in tongues. The crowd tried to pull him up. He didn't want it. He wouldn't have it. It was his sick joke. Arms tensed as they tried lifting his tall frame, and he resisted, smirking 'neath it all. Continued to writhe between dirty sneaks and polished boots. The people would not have their way. He would stay down.

Chris periodically lunged about with the guit, pulling vaguely eerie VU-meets-Suicide-via-Pussy-Galore patterns out of his instrument. Someone threw a can, which connected with his face, and he charged, screamed one helluva battle cry, thrusted the neck of his six-string into the muck of warm bodies that lay before him. He didn't miss ONE FUGGIN' NOTE. It was very real.

I had to leave a girl outside of the club. The thing in polka-dots with an ass and tits and a smile. She did not seem important as this.

The Hunches' new tunes -- which comprised most of their set -- are just as good as the old ones, if not much better. They carry with them the expected trademark stampings of the band: beautiful, brutal and fierce guit-pickings; caveman thump on bass and drums; throat-slit vox; recalled visions of latter-day Scientists drone, Pagans-brand gutter rock, Electric Eel insanity, Jesus and Mary Chain melancholy. And Half Japanese: As I later heard, they'd charged through a Half Japanese cover. (I couldn't tell.)

Their as-yet-unreleased material proved that the Hunches are still able to manuever from hate-filled scree to lovelorn trajectory with minimal effort. In fact, they make it look very easy, but they also make it look very painful, very brutal. Sincerity can do that.

After their set, I ran into Chris, who asked me: "Did you like the new songs?" Yes, I did. A whole lot. I was exhausted, very intoxicated, heavy in my sweat-drenched clothes. But I loved the new songs. I loved this band. They spoiled me, made me hate all others.

I looked to his left. Polka-dots.

"I got in," she said.

"You're too late," I said.

"For what?"


She smiled, nodded. "Let's go, then. I know a place."

We missed the Reigning Sound, but after Hunches, I'm not so sure I would've needed it. Anything else would've seemed tame by comparison.

Eric Lastname
1854 N. Cambridge Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
E-mail: mrlastname@yahoo.com