NOBUNNY with THE HUSSY and FIRST BASE at the Horseshoe, Sunday, February 2. Rating: NNN
Peyton Manning was well into his Super Bowl choke job when locals First Base took the stage at the Horseshoe, kicking off a rollicking trio of garage acts. Their sunny debut LP, released on Chicago's seminal Hozac Records, featured prominently. It was a shame to see the room largely empty - few can pull off a delightfully un-ironic Mamma Mia cover so well.
Guitar and drums duo The Hussy amped up the angst with a blazing set that suited the venue's dank, dark vibe more than First Base's playful disposition. Lead singer Bobby Hussy bore the brunt of the effort, screaming through a mess of blonde hair covering his face. Only when drummer Heather Hussy took over singing duties did their psych-punk find its wings, complemented by Bobby's windmills on guitar.
It didn't take long for Nobunny to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Sporting a pair of tight, green underwear complete with bunny tail and a tattered bunny mask that likely hasn't seen a washing machine in years, Justin Champlin was compelling onstage. Sure, his pristine bubble-gum punk is often overshadowed by the utter ridiculousness of his outfit, but his backing band held the music together nicely. When he implored the lighting tech to frame him in a more "romantic" light, Nobunny found a second wind, cooing through the night's highlight Live It Up. His set - heavy on his classic debut Love Visions - wasn't high art. But the frantic mosh pit (crowd-surfing at the Horseshoe? It didn't end well) got what it wanted: one more night of blowing off steam before the beginning of another work week.