Let there be cowbell

Back to the future: Three pale white guys took off their shirts and got on stage.

They were probably so pale because they’re from Seattle. No wonder they’re on tour, running toward the sun. After their set, the drummer told me the band’s plan to soon settle in Lima, Peru.

So, it might have been Sacramento’s last chance to see Bunny Kisses’ experiments. Ever. (Or he was joking—who can accurately identify sarcasm these days?)

Bunny Kisses specializes in long epics, constantly moving through different styles and changing speeds. To some unappreciative ears, it might have sounded like the members were playing three different songs, perhaps on three different planets, until they would suddenly, dramatically, sync up. Jazz, post-rock and doom elements were all there, along with some occasionally comical vocals.

There was crooning: “Why are you so sad? Is it because you can’t enjoy your life?” There was a literal slapping of the bass. There was a cowbell.

Welcome to Futurewang!, a new monthly installment at Shine.

Well, it’s not totally new. Futurewang! existed about six months ago at Old Ironsides before it mysteriously disappeared. But now, it’s back. Mark your calendars every first Thursday of the month for a reliable dose of avant-garde, experimental music.

Last Thursday, about 20 people made up the small but attentive audience. Demographics were mixed—for example, there was a graying man with a trench coat and a young woman with blue hair. Some downed beer, others nursed tea.

Practice, an experimental, prog-punk quartet from Sacramento, opened up the evening. Bunny Kisses followed. Chikading!, a local experimental jazz trio, closed the show and will anchor every installment of Futurewang!

While certainly a cringefest for people who mandate conventional song structures and catchy melodies, I see grand, exciting potential in Futurewang! Projected visualizations and other installations, perhaps? More artists showcasing custom-made instruments? Or, maybe, a time machine?

Fox and goosed: I can’t remember the last time I felt so cramped and coddled at a bar show. Saturday night at Fox & Goose was on a whole new level, and it speaks to Be Brave Bold Robot’s wild popularity.

It makes sense. The band has been around since 2004, and while members and instruments have cycled in and out, Dean Haakenson and his acoustic guitar have remained at the forefront. And Haakenson is an engaging guy, familiar enough for the comfort seekers yet odd enough for the curious cats. On this particular evening, he wore a collared shirt covered in Chinese lettering, squiggles and patterns—a shirt literally designed by the masses, apparently, who drew on it.

Haakenson’s shirt combined with the phone cases he gave away—completely covered in rhinestones with a dragon protruding from the back—made for an aesthetically exciting set. But what about the music?

They were singer-songwriter songs played by a five-piece band, essentially. Fun, whimsical stories told over easygoing folk rock. Some more offbeat and intellectual, others more jam band and dance friendly. The crowd, of course, loved it all.

Folks who missed the show can catch Be Brave Bold Robot at Luigi’s Fun Garden (1050 20th Street) on Friday, February 21. I’m sad I can’t say the same for opening act Sunmonks, who announced on Facebook that the Fox & Goose gig was their last “for a long while.”

Hopefully, the local band is working on a record, as Sunmonks only has a few demos floating around right now. Even a search on YouTube yields little: a series of acoustic performances from a year ago. And, sadly, the acoustic videos can’t compare to the full, live experience.

Sunmonks plays a mix of indie Afro-pop and experimental folk. Think Dirty Projectors with more accessible time signatures. Both bands highlight gorgeous harmonies and tribal rhythms, and then Sunmonks throws in some looped brass for good measure.

Instrumental trio CFR finished off the evening. Some songs teetered toward the Explosions in the Sky-style of post-rock, while others got a little funky. And after having a couple drinks, I wanted nothing more than a little room to groove. But I refrained—didn’t want to get accidentally, majorly goosed.