It could be argued that the Memphis underground music scene has never enjoyed as consistent and long-running a booster as the Rocket Science Audio Variety Show. Thursday night will mark the 29th time Robin Pack has assembled his long-running and resilient labor of love (for local music) in the form of a multi-format showcase and free online "webisode". Any local entity that creates 29 of ANYTHING for the benefit of artistic/creative posterity should be applauded. The variety show has survived early-2016 rumors of a possible hiatus (or end to the production altogether) and has diligently powered through the scaling-down to an episode every 2 – 3 months, as opposed to what must have been a stressful and challenging monthly schedule that defined much of the show’s history up to #24/#25 late last year. Thursday night’s extravaganza will feature Secret Service, Chickasaw Mound, comedian Hunter Sandlin, puppets, magic with Mitchell, and Pickle TV.
Justice Naczycz’s Secret Service was formed during the early part of the last decade when he was concurrently occupying the guitarist slot in Jay Reatard’s best known and busiest “side project” - the onstage catastrophe known as the Final Solutions. The Secret Service’s economic arena-garage-butt-rock was omnipresent on local bills for much of the 00s before going quiet in recent years, but the reemergence of Naczycz’s power-trio should be cause for celebration and there should be plenty of onstage energy at hand.
Profiled via a Flyer feature just a couple of months ago in May, Jesse Davis’ (son of local rock stalwart, Jimmie Davis) Chickasaw Mound is a shambling, sugary, reverb-loving and sometimes melancholy DIY pop-rock package that brings to mind the more classically melody-oriented corner of the contemporary garage-pop/punk underground. Featuring a sort of local super-group-as-backing band in drummer Ben Bauermeister (Magic Kids/A55 Conductor/Toxie), Keith Cooper (The Sheiks), Coletrane Duckworth (Aquarian Blood and son of Memphis legend, Jim Duckworth) and a focus on Davis’ soulful (“Soul-Rock” is an oft bandied-about term) pipes, the band has an undeniable Memphis feel to it. But to hint at a distinctly non-Memphis influence, look no further than the name of track three on the Chickasaw Mound’s Bandcamp-only album, Magic Sounds of Our Sanctuary: “I Wish My Girlfriend Was Belinda Butcher” (look her up in lieu of further exposition). Points for that one on title alone. This release was made available almost a year and a half ago, but Chickasaw Mound should now have a self-released 7” in the works to serve as a proper debut.
Local funny man Hunter Sandlin’s variety of inspired, over-the-top self-deprecating sad sack stand-up will be a fine addition to the evening, as should RSVS staples “Magic with Mitchell”, the show’s resident puppets and their problems, plus of course, Pickle TV’s mindf*** montage intermissions of heavily-altered (obscure to household name) TV commercials, programs and stock footage. Episode 27’s segment that begins with "Offensive Cat Commercial" (posted below and about as workplace appropriate as blasting the dialogue from Scarface) and morphs into a period-confused country club advertisement is highly recommended to anyone with a soul, as this near-perfect below-the-belt marriage of stupid and brilliant recently had this writer laughing obnoxiously at the computer screen and rewinding incessantly.
RSVS has always operated as a free event and has boasted a level of production quality (especially regarding the live music performances….which makes sense considering who’s behind the show) that beats the hell out of most if not all of what one might come across on cable-access. To assist with making each hour-plus package happen, the proverbial hat was passed to give the bands and comedians a little something to take home, but Thursday’s event will have a $5 cover charge; a more-than-fair asking price for what you get and insurance towards a future of further episodes.
$5 cover, arrive at Rocket Science Audio studio no later than 8:50. Broadcast begins at 9:00 pm prompt. Free on the internet here.