Warning: If you stand in the front row at a Birdmonster show, you're sure to be doused in the band's collective sweat. They shake their heads, swing their guitars, play their drums with malicious force, and somehow manage to smile throughout the whole sticky, humid experience. Walking into such a concert is tantamount to entering your gym's steamroom, with weathered guitars and perspiring musicians replacing the wooden benches and bleach-white towels.
When you distill the group's frenetic sound, Birdmonster is a near-perfect rock ‘n' roll band. They pull their inspiration from the American heartland, caffeinate it with cowpunk energy, and add some feverish vocals and dueling guitars to top things off. Debut album No Midnight weaves cello and banjo into the musical tapestry, but Birdmonster keeps things simple for this Mercury Lounge performance. Just guitars, vocals, the occasional melodica, and straight-forward unhinged rock.
Oh - and sweat. Lots and lots of sweat.
- Andrew Leahey
San Francisco quartet Birdmonster are kind of like a Bay Area version of Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - except that where Leo and his group have an undying devotion to new wave and ska groups like The Jam and The Specials, Birdmonster spike their Fugazi-like rock tunes with nods to American Beauty-era Grateful Dead and early Bruce Springsteen. Revved-up and punky rockers share space with country-inflected tunes, with frontman Peter Arcuni's lived-in vocals the primary point of connection.
Determined to have complete control over their music, Birdmonster released their first EP on the band's own dime. The full-length No Midnight was originally self-released as well, but strong reviews led the band to sign a distribution deal with SpinArt. No Midnight was re-released in August 2006.