Some shit does not happen by accident: these things include being in The Cramps, The Gun Club, AND Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. Being an alumnus of any of those three bands would give most serious music fans pause, but to have been in ALL THREE? Well, that’s just the stuff of legend. Oh yeah, the fellow in question…one Brian Tristan, aka “Kid Congo Powers,” also happens to front a pretty damn spectacular band of his own, The Pink Monkey Birds. Though Kid Congo will go down in history for his association with the three aforementioned bands, it would be a huge oversight to neglect his current project, the Pink Monkey Birds, in favor of his 80s and 90s career.
Powers and his three-piece backing band rolled into Bottletree on Tuesday night and were tasked with entertaining an incredibly sparse crowd. Aside from those working the show, there were a grand total of 16 people in attendance. I was, no hyperbole, responsible for getting 25% of the attendees there.
I’ve seen no shortage of bands completely mail it in when playing before crowds that small, but true professionals will rise to the task and play their hearts out no matter how many people are there. Their art, their passion is more important than headcount…and one must certainly tip their hat to a band that gives their all as if playing in front of a packed house when the total number of attendees could fit in a pair of minivans. Powers seemed to be having fun despite the small crowd, even remarking at one point, “This feels like we’re playing for a private house party. I like it.” There’s no need to bullshit a crowd that small and Powers’ earnestness was readily apparent to those in attendance.
The band opened their set with the eerie “Conjure Man,” a non-album track from a 2013 7-inch release (a tune I figured would feature much later in the set.) They then wasted no time showing their pedigree playing “She’s Like Heroin to Me” off of The Gun Club’s 1981 album The Fire of Love. Later in the set they also played The Cramps’ “Can’t Find My Mind” from their Psychic Jungle record.
From there on out, the band leaned heavily on its 2013 release, Haunted Head, playing songs like “Killer Diller,” “Loud and Proud,” “Dance Me Swamply” and the infinitely dancable instrumental “The Rad Lord’s Return” in addition to the title track.
A pair of tracks off of 2009’s Dracula Boots provided two highlights of the evening: “Rare as the Yeti” and “LSDC.” Unfortunately they didn’t play fan favorites like “The History of French Cuisine,” “Black Bag,” or “La Historia De Un Amor” off of 2006’s Philosophy and Underwear. His Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds output was also skipped over. Though most of it would only work in Cave’s unique voice, I feel like “Deanna” from Tender Prey could seamlessly work its way into his sets.
Overall, a fantastic evening of music from one of rock music’s under appreciated contributors. Though his name hasn’t always been the one to feature on the marquee, Kid Congo has been a peer of some of underground rock’s most legendary performers and he’s been present for and party to some of my favorite records and songs. Definitely a night I’ll remember for quite some time.