Bassist Cris Kirkwood was absolutely correct in what he said before his band’s recent performance at SOhO: The Meat Puppets are a band who has been behind the scenes, passionately rockin’ out, and laying groundwork for what would become great indie music years down the line. And Chris more than proved his words (and worth) during the band’s truly epic set (in front of an equally eager and excited crowd) last Thursday night. Having just as much fun playing onstage as their packed audience had off, the band’s show was an innovation and delight to witness.
The brothers Kirkwood stuck mostly to tunes off their highly celebrated second album, 1983’s Meat Puppets II, performing “Plateau,” “Oh Me,” and “Lake of Fire.” Some of their instrumental numbers were just as memorable, and really allowed lead singer/guitarist Curt Kirkwood to showcase his incredible talents on the guitar – as well as his whistling chops on “The Whistling Song.” The Meat Puppets have never been restrained by or committed to a genre, and in true revolutionary form, they segued beautifully from Americana to rockabilly to punk to country throughout the course of the night. And they did so without ever losing the attention of their audience, who grooved along in unison.
After an hour of straight tunes, the threesome exited stage right, but was quickly demanded back by the more devout ticket holders. They returned to play three more songs, officially ending with their 1994 hit, “Backwater.”
Opening on Thursday night were Santa Barbara’s own Cat OK, and the Portland-based band, The Shaky Hands. Cat OK played a moving 33 minute-long set comprised of interesting melodies somewhat reminiscent of Menomena, but with a more poppy feel. The Shaky Hands were something unusual in their delivery. Overall, they sounded much like Ween might sound without Ween’s signature novelty, resulting in funky collection of drum and bass driven songs with excellent bridges, rather compelling lyrics, and an almost Kings of Leon-esque tendency to jam. The combination was superb, and after their set it seemed like several browsed (and likely purchased) from The Shaky Hands’ merch table.