Everyone that filed into Starlite Lounge on May 12 was originally ready to hear Moving Units, the 15-year-old dance punk band, do their best Joy Division impression in the second story venue. Judging by the band’s recorded covers of post-punk staples like “Transmission” and “Digital,” Starlite was going to be a beautiful, sweaty swarm of moving bodies. Then something happened that is a little unclear and wholly disheartening.
Creux Lies lead singer Ean Clevenger addressed the notable absence during his band’s set.
“You’ll hear about it soon,” Clevenger said. That’s all he would say about Moving Units’ absence.
As of this writing, Moving Units has yet to make any statement regarding why their West Coast tour was canceled, and so it’s uncertain what happened with the band.
Most bands would be discouraged by their slot to open for a touring band change into a headlining show just three days before the set date, but Creux Lies powered through for one hell of a set.
The band, formerly known as NMBRSTTN, is a dark, brooding synthwave and post-punk outfit of the highest caliber. Their near hour-long set was made up of entirely new tracks that will eventually be a full-length to be released later this year. The five-piece glided through each song with vigor and precision. The drums hit hard, the synth-driven melodies were nothing short of infectious and the vocals were dynamic.
The whole band was brimming with nervous energy that moved over the crowd quickly. If the songs had been well-known, the room would have been a certified goth dance party.
Clevenger had some personal words to say during the Creux Lies set. He spoke about the need to end rape culture and misogyny in the punk scene and society as a whole.
“We are here to make sure that women are treated fairly and equally,” Clevenger said. “[Rape culture] is too much of a problem still.”
Creux Lies will release their debut album later this year and it’s bound to be one of the local scene’s highlights.
It’s entirely respectable that Creux Lies not only kept the show going, but were able to swiftly find a couple of acts to fill out the night with even more synths and what can only be described as a goth Batman mask.
Local duo Killer Couture opened the late night with screams, an Apple computer and a masked percussionist using a literal hunk of metal as their drum kit. The band calls themselves “electronic junk punk,” and it’s no secret as to why. Lead singer Seth Draven painted his face like he was celebrating Dia de los Muertos and wore a shirt that read, “I’m a fuckin maniac,” that came off during the first song. Everything they did was in vein of the chaos that is gladly accepted in the Sacramento punk scene.
The band even covered Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” in which they paused the song to recite the infamous Donald Trump “Grab ‘em by the pussy” tape and end the speech with a Nazi salute.
Once Killer Couture was done shocking the audience like a live dada art piece—they even said, “We’re going to make you feel real uncomfortable” at one point—Oakland post-punks Tremor Low took the stage.
Tremor Low is unsigned according to the band’s Facebook page, and that’s just a travesty. Indie labels should be throwing their money behind the Bay Area synth-loving quartet. Their music is danceable, versatile and intricate. They are even working on creating the soundtrack to an indie video game.
Tremor Low knows how to use their music to fit an ambience. They don’t necessarily need to create one, they just need to be able to get the vibe of the room to create the right mix of their tracks to fit the night. Tremor Low gauges their surroundings and puts the music to the room, not the other way around.
Whatever went on with Moving Units could have easily ruined that Friday night at Starlite Lounge. The show could have been entirely canceled. Instead, Ean Clevenger and Creux persevered with this show. Thanks to them, it paid off. Everyone at Starlite was treated to Northern California goth punks going all out for the music they love and damn was it good.
**This review first appeared in print on page 29 of issue #240 (May 22 – June 5, 2017)**