King Tuff at Muddy Waters Café

The L.A. Rockers Made a Big Noise in Small Space

A few years back, Muddy Waters Café went through a renaissance of sorts. For a couple of months, the Haley Street venue played host to rising acts like Beach House, Girls, and Bon Iver, bands that, for all intents and purposes, had no business playing a space even twice Muddy’s size. During those months, crammed into the tiny and tinny-sounding coffee shop, I saw some of the best live sets of my life. And Wednesday night, I was brought back to those golden days in the best possible way.

The night started off promisingly, with the sweet and surfy sounds of Ventura’s Seth Pettersen & The Undertow. Together with his band of longtime Muddy’s favorites, Pettersen crooned through cuts both old and new, and provided a nice mellow way to ease into what was to come. Around the 10 p.m. mark, King Tuff and his scraggly bandmates took aim and fired with “Alone & Stoned,” a sunny and snotty little anthem that had the room’s patrons thrashing along unapologetically. Over the course of the next hour, the band gave us everything from the soaring “Anthem” to the joyously sped-up “Baby Just Break” to the nearly chaos-making “Bad Thing,” each delivered loudly and proudly. Throughout the night, searing distortion-filled guitar solos and relentless drum work threatened to overwhelm the whole show (not to mention Muddy’s soundboard), while frontman Kyle Thomas’s nasal deliveries rang out brightly and boldly. It made for a night of irreverent rock and complete audience abandon that breathed some serious life back into S.B.’s oft-forgotten little venue.

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