Hürd at Ugly’s: life in the ‘burbs

The Hürd, belly up.

The Hürd, belly up.

Life in the suburbs can be difficult for a live-music fan. That’s not to say that the residents of the Sacramento outskirts aren’t trying hard to give themselves the rock, but, more often than not, the good shows are happening in Midtown. If you aren’t a metal fan, your suburban musical choices are often few and far between.

This is one of the reasons last weekend’s show at Ugly’s Tequila Bar (7691 Auburn Boulevard, at Antelope Road) in Citrus Heights was so surprising.

Ugly’s is well off the beaten path, so much so that the street address may only provide the traveler with a general geographical area. There’s a sign on the street, but it’s difficult to see without lights. Furthermore, the bar’s entrance is snuggled firmly at the far edge of a semi-dilapidated strip mall—again, nearly impossible to see from the street unless you know what you’re looking for.

From such a venue, the listener might expect an evening of horrifying rap-metal, but much to this listener’s surprise, Ugly’s provided a diverse array of quality music performed by three essentially unknown bands: Josephine, Zodi and Hürd.

Midtowners might recognize Josephine by its former name: the West Memphis Three. Playing amped-up Americana rock akin to Whiskeytown, the Black Crowes and Tom Petty, Josephine’s sound wasn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it was definitely professional and tight, and it held the audience’s interest—in part because of the strength of leader Deklan Lone’s songwriting.

Similarly, Zodi relied heavily on its influences, in this case the Smashing Pumpkins. Again, the music wasn’t groundbreaking (in fact, the music often seemed heavily derivative of Billy Corgan’s music, particularly in terms of the vocals). Nonetheless, Zodi’s music was tight, and the vocalist, derivative as he was, showed real talent—nailing the same kind of screaming-yet-tender quality present in Corgan’s work. One hopes that Zodi will use those talents to develop a more original sound.

This problem was decidedly not an issue with the evening’s headliner: Hürd. Combining the syncopated rhythms of Primus with the weird lounge-singer qualities of Frank Zappa, Hürd is a band that puts on a show complete with props and costumes (photos of which are available on the band’s Web site: www.thehurd.net). Take note: Most bands falsely will tell you that their sound is difficult to define; Hürd is a band whose sound actually is difficult to define.

Ugly’s still has some development to do if it is going to become known as a live-music establishment, even in Citrus Heights, but if this evening was any indication, the booking (courtesy of SiC Entertainment) is certainly moving in the right direction. Providing a night of music as diverse as last Friday’s show could provide a way to attract curious listeners. More information is at www.sicevents.com.

In other news: Fans of local singer-songwriter Solomon McCrea will have to wait a few years to hear him on the local stage. McCrea has moved to the United Kingdom to attend graduate school.

On a serious note: A benefit show will be held on September 5 at The Distillery to help support the medical expenses of Nevada Backwards’ multi-instrumentalist Mick Stevenson, who suffered major head injuries as a result of a skateboarding accident in July.