Death rattle ’n’ roll: The din of Kings arena construction took a backseat to pulses of distorted guitars and cymbal crashes this past Thursday. For one evening only, the soon-to-be-gutted Marshall Hotel—you know, that shuttered single-resident occupancy dive on the corner of Seventh and L streets—welcomed head-nodders for a night of badass underground rock ’n’ roll. Inside, the lobby-turned-venue buzzed so hard that I forgot I was huffing urine fumes.
Local band Gymboys—it’s an homage to everyone’s favorite Parmesan-dusted taco joint—took the stage before 9 p.m. I like to call the group the house band of Empress Tavern and Mother, since a majority of members work at those eateries, including chef/owner Michael Thiemann on drums. Thursday was Gymboys’s sixth gig ever, so the groups remains a little rough around the edges, but endearingly so.
Singer Whittney Kebschull unpacked her lungs into the microphone, letting out ferocious yawps and cries while spinning and throwing her body about. Backed by two guitars (I’d describe their sound as equal parts catchy sonic noodling and grimy waves of guitar rock) and an unrelenting bass-drums attack, Gymboys continue to fulfill their promise as an exciting local post-rock act.
Thursday’s show might’ve been the gnarliest lineup in the history of the Marshall. The hotel opened in 1911, and the city-landmark building’s basement was converted in 1940 to a live-music venue (then called The Clayton Club). Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong once graced its stage. Add Gymboys to that esteemed company—one last death rock ’n’ rattle before Marshall is gutted to make way for a boutique Hyatt.
For years, the city of Sacramento scratched its head and threw money at K Street and downtown, praying that investments in guitars of a Hard Rock Cafe variety and America Live! venues would equal visitors. No dice. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars in squandered investment.
But this week, tens of thousands of visitors flocked to downtown. On Saturday morning before 11 a.m., some 1,000 people were already queued up in hopes of entering the Art Hotel, inside the former Jade abode next to the Marshall. The line stretched for nearly eight city blocks! And this to see an art show inside a rundown flophouse that was curated on a $10,00 budget.
Guess we didn’t need to spend $350 million on an arena to get people to come downtown after all.
Glamorous: Last week’s tribute to David Bowie marked the first time I had to wait in line at the Blue Lamp. The club was totally packed with a sweaty, enthusiastic and diverse crowd. On a Tuesday. Despite the much buzzed-about Art Hotel still open just across the grid, the people chose Bowie!
The Life on Mars visual art show, curated by TUBE Magazine’s Melissa Uroff Millner, was actually planned long before Bowie’s death. Originally, 40 artists were to create a piece of art inspired by a line from Bowie’s song “Life on Mars?” off 1971’s Hunky Dory. Then more artists hopped on, offering up an assortment of fun, colorful pieces plastered across Blue Lamp’s back walls.
The local music community’s presence was strong, with some musicians contributing to the visual show, too. Tara Elizabeth, singer-songwriter with the Orange Scene, collaged bits of set lists from other local bands—50-Watt Heavy, Drop Dead Red and Macabre Shocks among them—after receiving the line “It’s about to be writ again.” Dog Party’s Lucy Giles couldn’t actually attend because she’s not 21, but her dual pseudo-cameos of Bowie were there and they were rad.
Local glam band Mondo Deco proved to be the perfect act to close the night with a tight set of classic Bowie covers: “Space Oddity,” “Queen Bitch,” “Oh! You Pretty Things,” “Suffragette City.”
“Here’s to all the inspiration and good stuff you gave us,” singer Jeremy Greene said before launching into Mondo Deco’s last song. Then, the lights came on, “Life on Mars?” streamed through the soundsystem and everyone went home talking about Bowie, as one should.