Cthulhu rises on L Street

Once, in a gin-embalmed stupor many years ago, I managed to scribble out a “treatment,” in felt-tipped marker on a cocktail napkin no less, of a surefire genius idea. What the world needed then, I’d figured, was a new musical. And not just any musical, but a full-blown Busby Berkeley-meets-Bollywood extravaganza based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, with chorus lines of giant squid, in cartoon costumes designed by Sanrio, flailing about while singing that immortal call of the Cthulhu mythos—“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”—to hilariously light-in-the-loafers melodies straight out of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

I’d remembered this ill-fated musical last Saturday night and felt sad—sad that it was never produced, and sad that I was sitting in an outdoor café with nothing to do but watch people play some card game called “Uno.” Fortunately, there was something reasonably Lovecraft-related at the Distillery nearby, so I managed to drag my carcass over there in time to catch the last song by some band with multiple pointy-headstock guitars.

Next up was Damnweevil, a quartet from the Bay Area, which appeared to re-enact that great lost Looney Tunes episode titled “Hand of Doom”—you know, the one where Elmer and Bugs build a huge, high-powered Marshall stack, plug in their guitars and proceed to loosen everyone’s dental fillings and eyeballs with a half-hour of brutal stoner-rock riffage. Then there was a band from Portland, a best-left-unnamed trio whose adenoidal yammering and peripatetic guitar maneuvers apparently had wandered off some Vans Warped Tour bus of the damned in search of fresh skater-shoe endorsements. Ow.

But I’d come to see the Grave Digging Devil Worshippers. Dunno about you, but I can’t go wrong with a name like that. Sure, you might get all nitpicky and ask why they weren’t called the Grave Robbing Devil Worshippers, but that kind of academic hair-splitting will get you nowhere. Especially when the band had the imprimatur of sidewalk chalk artist Ground Chuck, who was right up front the whole time, intuitively mimicking the dance moves of the giant-squid chorus line of my fevered imagination.

For a bunch of guys who look more like frat lads or Midtown bartenders than the central-casting goth zombies one might associate with their name, or perhaps chumps from the Gene Simmons school of kabuki-makeup assclownery, the Devil Worshippers did manage to spew an inspired racket. The vocals from “Dave 2” were what you might expect; look up “Cookie Monster (disambiguation)” on Wikipedia for further elaboration.

The instrumental churn from the two guitarists and bassist wavered between deliciously ponderous riffing and fine sonic clatter, and the drummer brought a crank cooker’s earnest dedication to pounding out hellishly stupid beats. I don’t recall much else, other than me smiling and laughing pretty much the whole time.

Then it was all over, the blood-red killing floor of the Distillery safe until, well, this Friday night, when Red Host and Iguanadon bring it back to life. Trust me, you don’t want to miss that one.