A bucket, an oversize cowbell, pieces of scrap metal, some cracked cymbals, a plastic water jug . . . oh yeah, and a standard drum kit. San Francisco percussion-punks Tussle gave each of these objects an exhaustive thumping on the Black Cat backstage Monday night, performing an all-instrumental set of clattering cadences.
The groove-happy quartet was led by bassist Andy Cabic, who slid his stop-and-go bass lines in and out of his band mates' tight and insistent rhythms. Keyboardist Nathan Burazer kept things minimal, eking out a patina of nearly subsonic melodies and an occasional organ spill. But Tussle's best material eschewed melody altogether, with Burazer sitting it out and Cabic chipping in on auxiliary percussion. Drummers Alexis Georgopoulos and Jonathan Holland often escalated from a funky tick-tock to a thundering stampede, as if they were channeling the ghost of legendary New York groovers Liquid Liquid.
Fellow Bay Area outfit Eats Tapes opened the show with a quirkier agenda. As with many of their label mates on the esteemed Tigerbeat 6 imprint, the duo specializes in playful and colorful electro -- the kind of dance music that inspires toe-tapping over fist-pumping. Marijke Jorritsma and Gregory Zifcak littered motley electronic scribbles over a puffing house beat as they hunched over a folding table cluttered with sequencers, electronic children's toys and a tangle of cables. Eats Tapes made good on their moniker: Their textures often sounded like an old cassette getting garbled in a car stereo.
-- Chris Richards