The Woolly Bandits Live at Alex’s Bar
October 1, 2017
Sometimes it takes a good night’s sleep to recover from a night of live music, sometimes a next day sonic detox, and then every so often good you need a few days to restart the system and shake off the raucous, ringing feedback that lingers from one hell of a show. The aftermath of The Woolly Bandits at Alex’s Bar was definitely in the latter category. Three days later and I’m still recovering – in a good way.
Part cult movie, part 60’s garage redux, part PUNK ROCK, and part something that is unnameable, but you know it, and you feel it when you are there in the midst of live music magic. This was my first time seeing The Woolly Bandits, and my first time at Alex’s Bar, in Long Beach. I couldn’t have picked a better venue for this first time. The red David Lynch curtains draped behind the stage, the ghoulish, horror-porn decor on the walls and above-the-bar TV screen, and that sticky scent of sweat, shots and guitar strings set the perfect scene for seeing this band live.
The band took to the stage with “Woman of Mass Destruction” and the temperature immediately rose around the room as eyes and ears and bodies gravitated towards them. All attention was on The Woolly Bandits, and it didn’t take more than an eye-blink to see why.
Singer Christa Collins has a magnetic energy that you can see vibrating off of everything she touches, be it the whip-tasseled mic, her bandmates’ instruments, of the edge of the bar as she pounced on it to create a second-stage mid-way through their set. She is unequal parts Tura Santana “Faster Pussycat Kill Kill”, Throwback Bettie Page, and a hybrid Siouxsie Sioux meets Lene Lovich meets Horrorpops – but there is more than that there. She has a killer voice that weaves itself in and out, and then over the top of a well-versed 60’s garage/late 70’s punk-infused band.
The band itself – propelled into action by Rik Collins on bass, Mark Bellgraph on lead guitar, Mark Benquechea on drums, and Tom Dolan on keyboards – are all part and parcel of what makes The Woolly Bandits a kind of magic with a blade’s edge to experience. Together they are “out of the (genre) box”. As soon as you make a comparison, another rises to the top, and another, and then another, and yet you find yourself still grasping for one more descriptive. And that right there is what makes a band something un-categorically special.
The Woolly Bandits are without a doubt a see-them-live band. At least the first time. That energy that ricocheted off the walls, the floor, and each dancing and sing-screaming-a-long fan is something you need to have for yourself. You will be swept up in the sound and the vision of the performance, an all-sensory delight that transcends the music alone, becoming a capturing lightning in a bottle, cinematic and sonic experience.
You may even wind up on stage yourself.