On March 21, The Thirsty Hippo hosted performances by Casual Burn of New Orleans, Mouth Reader of Tennessee, Tomato Face of outer space and Stellatone of Hattiesburg. Casual Burn cranked up the event with the night’s first set at 10 p.m. with at least 30 confirmed patrons in attendance.
Stellatone closed out the night.
Casual Burn set things rolling like a jet-fuel powered slingshot. Though they classify themselves as swank-ass barbecue rock and roll, they were plenty punk enough for us between singer Monet Maloof’s perfect rough-and-rowdy vocals and drummer Nathan Bluford’s rapid precision. Guitar player David Sabludowsky and bassist Carlos Knoop served as the meat of the performance and supplied a hailstorm of riffs that kept even the stiffest necks moving.
Maloof said although they do not subscribe to a specific genre’s conventions, the one they prefer to be billed as is “good time sleazy driveway music.” The name Casual Burn was an understatement. The heat left by this band propelled the momentum for the evening.
Up next to bat was Mouth Reader from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This band offered a cool transition from the casual burn felt from the first set. Notably, the band positioned the drummer at the forefront alongside his bandmates, emphasizing the equal importance of each instrument. The band kept a tight and smooth groove that rolled off the audience with every crash of drummer Ethan Rose’s cymbal. The amalgamation of each sound — the bass, the guitar, the drums, the vocals — created a mass of lo-fi, luke-warm spilled- beer sound that welcomed the listener to throw a punch or two.
After a cool-down from Mouth Reader’s funky, lo-fi grooves, a vaguely Red Hot Chili Peppers reminiscent band performed. Wacky, wild, weird and from outer space appeared Tomato Face. If red spandex and tomato masks were not enough to keep your eyes locked on their performance, vocalist and bassist Chase Price’s commanding presence retained audience engagement. Smooth, slick spoken-word style vocals on top of funky and precise bass lines punctuated by humor and the tight drumming of Jake Umberger created the perfect recipe for Tomato Face’s set.
Printz informant Jordy Boof stood in awe of Price’s precise and insane ability to play bass and sing at the same time. His prowess is impossible. He shreds like no one ever has and sings effortlessly while doing so. Watching Price perform felt like stuffing 40 of the hottest peppers imaginable into one’s mouth. The sting of his bass and Price’s ability to play, perform, sing and entertain left no room for disappointment, only the need to cool off from his multi-faceted talents.
The much anticipated Stellatone played the night’s final set beginning at roughly 12:30 a.m. Frontman Dylan Kern is a triple threat. He sings, he plays and he writes like a master. The man is a true gem among Hattiesburg musicians and perhaps acts as a kind of marker for the quintessential Hattiesburg rock sound.
The question on everyone’s mind is usually, “How is this guy not nationally famous?” Stellatone boasts a sound slightly more aggressive than that of Him Horrison. If we heard correctly, there may or may not be some Misfits influence in their style, which is welcomed.
There was not a sour note played at the Hippo on Monday. All of these bands are well worth their weight in tomato-colored spandex.
Whether the band hailed from outer space, out of town or out of Hattiesburg’s city limits, each brought a unique sound that resonated a unified frequency of skill and presence.
To learn more about any of these bands, visit their Bandcamp and Facebook pages. The Thirsty Hippo hosts regular music events.