Show Review & Photos: Cerebral Ballzy & Grave Babies @ Neumos

I was the first person to arrive at Neumos last Thursday night for the explosive triple bill featuring Black Lips, Cerebral Ballzy, and Grave Babies. The floor was dark and empty, save for a lone security guy on a bar stool at the back and a few other staffers. The next four people inside were, like me, there to photograph the show. As we staked out our spots at the front of the stage, I was wondering. . . ”Where is everybody? This is going to be one amazing show!”

Within an hour or so, the floor was packed into a mob of joyous punked out pit maniacs. Bodies were flying, beer was spraying, and fists were pumping into the air. I never should have doubted the inevitable. The three bands had commonalities – loud, noisy, with plenty of attitude – but their differences were more pronounced.

Grave Babies – photo by Alex Crick

Cerebral Ballzy – photo by Marianne Spellman

Cerebral Ballzy – photo by Dagmar

Seattle’s Grave Babies opened the show with their goth-y, ‘80s-influenced songs – think Joy Division or Suicide with non-wimpy drums + a little Psychedelic Horseshit + a depressed poet’s diary, written in red ink. Most of the songs built into a high wall of metallic cacophony, easing into silence in-between, with the band remaining mostly stationary onstage. There definitely was something intriguing in the mix, including the mysterioso Jim Morrison-type of vibe of the good-looking front man singing dark and disturbing lyrics.

If Grave Babies delivered their music stock-still, Cerebral Ballzy took the 180-degree spin and prowled and pounced onstage like five demented tigers let out of a cage, then set on fire and given meth and Red Bulls during the Apocalypse. The Brooklyn-based band tumbled out of their tour van and lit up Neumos with authentic, slammed-down hard, old-school speed punk, with most songs coming in tight and nasty at under 2 minutes, and some under 1 minute long, I think. What a blast this band is – two black dudes, one on bass and singer Honor “Trouble” Titus, a drummer with no shirt and a Mohawk, and two guitarists, one a shaggy skater dude and the other who looked like he’d be happy hanging in a metal bar.

Titus gave the crowd some flip-the-man-off fun, as he downed fans’ cans of beer sitting on the edge of the stage, and lit up a cigarette (neither drinking alcohol nor smoking is allowed onstage in Seattle, by law). A Neumos employee kindly helped Titus in extinguishing his smoke. Cerebral Ballzy got this old punk fan screaming and fist-pumping in solidarity until moshy got too muchy and I had to retire to the back of the room for the rest of the show.

Black Lips came on to wild cheers and pumped up the crowd even more with their more melodic garage punk songs, so singable, danceable, and crowd-surfable. Music from their new Mark-Ronson-produced album “Arabia Mountain” were as well-received as their older songs, a good sign for the band’s increasing popularity. I, for one, set down my camera for a second so I could bust a move to “Modern Art.” (You can read Dagmar’s review and see the photos for them here.)

Punk lives – hurray!

Review by Marianne Spellman

Cerebral Ballzy – photos by Alex Crick

Cerebral Ballzy – photos by Marianne Spellman

Cerebral Ballzy – photos by Dagmar

Cerebral Ballzy – photos by Alex Crick

Cerebral Ballzy – photos by Marianne Spellman

Cerebral Ballzy – photos by Dagmar

Grave Babies – photos by Marianne Spellman

Grave Babies– photos by Dagmar

Grave Babies– photos by Alex Crick

Grave Babies – photos by Dagmar

Grave Babies – photos by Marianne Spellman

Dagmar’s Gallery of Cerebral Ballzy @ Neumos
Dagmar’s Gallery of Grave Babies @ Neumos


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