Shirtless shredding

New buzz: Sacramento’s Sunday School was quickly slapped with the “garage rock” label, which can almost certainly be a death sentence for some bands. It can make any new artist seem inexperienced and sloppy. Lucky for everyone at the Starlite Lounge on Friday night, Sunday School played an impressively tight set of ’90s-inspired alternative rock that was everything you could want from rising garage rockers.

A Built to Spill cover? Check. The crowd growing into a frenzy that resulted in a mosh pit that even local rapper Hobo Johnson had to get in on? Check. Lead guitarist Alex Giddings finishing up the set shirtless? Check.

Sunday School channels Supergrass in their music, while looking to Nirvana and early Weezer when performing live. They know how to get an audience dancing with wild abandon.

The band was celebrating the release of their self-titled EP that is garnering plenty of deserved buzz. The quartet performed like they had been anxiously waiting to put those songs out into the world. All that pent-up energy came out on stage, and it was infectious. The whole room felt the band’s excitement, and it only grew with each song.

Opener Cities You Wish You Were From, a blues rock duo that sounds like the Black Keys went on a Lynyrd Skynyrd binge, would have seemed out of place if it weren’t for their stage presence. The guitarist-and-drummer pair commanded the stage better than some five-piece bands.

Jordan Moore took the stage next, and he may have been out of place. He and his band play a fantastic hybrid of emo and folk that would pair well with acts like Mineral and American Football. The only problem is that it was too gentle for the night. A few moments from their set were drowned out by conversations in the crowd. Although, it’s a minor grievance from a great night.

Sunday School’s live show was downright fun, and with their excellent new EP, they seem poised to keep going up from here.

—Daniel Romandia

Menstrual grooves: Tacocat singer Emily Nokes dedicated a song to everyone “on their period tonight.” The whole crowd at the Blue Lamp cheered loudly, even the guys. This song, “Crimson Wave,” a surfy-pop-punk song, is likely the most fun being on your period has ever sounded—“All the girls are surfin’ the wave / surfin’ the crimson wave today”—while vividly evoking that time of the month.

The four-piece (bass, guitar, drums, tambourine-vox) spent much of their relatively short headlining set singing about topics normally too uncomfortable to be addressed bluntly in the male-dominated punk scene. That combined with a full rainbow spectrum of bright colors on the members’ shirts and hair, flowers on the mic stands and a general goofiness in the band’s presentation gave some of the more serious messages even more sting. In other words, this was feminism at its most fun and biting.

“This song is called ’Men explain things to me,’” deadpanned Nokes at one point, letting it linger in the air for a moment. “Maybe this has happened to you.” A knowing laughter filled the club. Other songs were about internet trolls “and about how fucking cool they are,” being harassed on the street by men (“Hey, girl”) and Nokes’ feminist hero, X-Files’ Dana Katherine Scully.

No matter how silly or serious the song was, the group’s arsenal included a ton of stuck-in-your-head beach-pop melodies, fun backup harmonies and Ramones-esque midtempo punk rock beats, though without a trace of aggression. The band created a dichotomy of childlike silliness and fearless, pointed sarcasm.

The set had a loose, free-form vibe, and the band concluded by saying how amazing their first-ever show in Sacramento was. Then Maupin interrupted bassist Bree McKenna, insisting that this was their second show in Sacramento.

“Was it at a pizza place?” Nokes said.

Without missing a beat, the entire crowd shouted back “Luigi’s!”

The band was clearly tickled by this response.

—Aaron Carnes