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Neon Reverb report: Wrapping it up with Hunx and the Clams

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Jason Harris

If you’re going to close a festival, close with a party. And make it a damn good one. Neon Reverb, cresting with one of the best installments of the fest yet, finished on a high Sunday night at the Bunkhouse as alt-indie party bands Hunx and His Punx and Shannon and the Clams wrapped up the weeklong affair with an ultra-fun shindig. And that's alt-indie, as in legit alternatives to the electro-pop and guitar-garage sounds that have come to define the indie rock genre.

Not that Hunx and His Punx couldn’t play in a garage. It would just have to be one with padded walls and a bunch of dudes in leather watching. Hunx might be the most flamboyantly gay lead singer in music right now, mixing up his throwback tunes with amusing demands of his audience, like, “I need to see some more wieners or else we’re not going to play another song.”

It’s a strange brew, as HAHP is essentially a '60s girl group, except for the lead singer, a gentleman named Seth Bogart, who's more feminine than most women. If there was a market for LGBT Sock Hops, Hunx and his ladies (his new Punkettes?) would clean up nicely. Just the song titles—“Do the Makeup,” “The Curse of Being Young” and “Lovers Lane"—let you know exactly what kind of music you’re in for: Bogart and company really capture a time gone by. Of course, HAHP would have never been able to play this music in the early '60s, but with the band recently getting love from satellite radio station , maybe it’s only a matter of time before one of their catchy ditties gets slipped onto '60s Channel show Cruisin’ With Cousin Brucie. If anybody knows about cruisin’, it’s probably Hunx.

Shannon and the Clams were also cut from the 1960s cloth, only instead of playing school dances, they would have been on the beach, soundtracking dance party scenes in Frankie and Annette movies. Had the Bunkhouse parking lot been filled with sand, it would have been perfect.

The three-piece outfit from Oakland (so is Hunx; Shannon Shaw is the bassist in both bands), was one of the true highlights of the fest. While Shannon’s raspy voice gave her trouble all night, it was hardly noticeable during her set. And guitarist Cody Blanchard, who plays some amazingly interesting and unique riffs, has one of the most intriguing voices I’ve heard in a while. This guy is in Frankie Valli territory with his high pitched rhythmic squeals.

Standout jam “The Cult Song” could have been a novelty hit record with peculiar sounds and chants coming from all three members of the band along with the refrain “I don’t want to be in your cult no more.” Forget the cults. This was a party! And the kind any fest would be proud to have close it.

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