Pujol | Bruiser Queen | Carriage House Off Broadway July 8, 2012
Better than: Sticking your weenie in a pool jet.
The two most purely enjoyable things I've done in the last couple weeks I did back-to-back yesterday, when I went from a showing of The Amazing Spider-Man at the Moolah to the Pujol show at Off Broadway. The show was better. It was a kinetic celebration of riffs and people to share them with - the front three rows of the (good sized for a Sunday but still pretty paltry) crowd melted at the end into a sweaty roar of contact. It isn't the easiest experience to describe, so indulge me:
The Amazing Spider-Man is better than it has any right to be. It's not only a familiar story, but a familiar story we already blockbuster'd in triplicate less than a decade ago. (Hang tight, we're getting there.) What makes it such a thrill is: 1) a script and delivery that go pretty far out of their way to make sure every single character, right down to the mugger-turned-murderer, is humanized and 2) this movie understands that it would be completely awesome to be able to fly recklessly through Manhattan on ropes coming out of your wrists, and makes sure that pleasure is appropriately celebrated.
Daniel Pujol, from Nashville, knows plenty about the good in people and the celebration of life's pleasures. He is, like much of his young generation, highly educated and disillusioned with the straight-and-narrow path to the white picket fence in the 'burbs. Maybe that all worked out for a while, but it's hard to imagine the trajectory that gets us from debt and anxiety-laden kids to stable country club members.
"So baby tell me 'bout the five year plan/the one where I wake up a man," sings Pujol on "DIY2K," the opening volley on the band's full-length debut on Saddle Creek records, The United States of Being.
This sort of apprehension is nothing new; not to rock & roll or this generation or society in general. It's what Pujol does with it that makes his worldview and music so compelling: His fight is a celebration, a proposal that we figure all this stuff out by spending time in the flesh-and-blood presence of each other and singing along to some exuberant music. Just because you have to take down the mad-scientist lizard doesn't mean you can't also yell at the top of your lungs as you jump off a skyscraper.
Pujol's touring band is Daniel Severs on bass and Stewart Copeland (of King Arthur, not the Police) on drums, and as a trio they blasted through a ten-song set. There can, I suppose, be a sort of sameness to this music - strange encounters in Wal-Mart parking lots get much of fist-pumping power chord treatment given to existential analysis and colonialism critiques. But that would only be a problem if it had time to wear out its welcome, and ten songs isn't even close to a burden. So it was Sunday night, the end of an oppressive heat wave and another day in a world given by nature to entropy. No sense in moping about it.
Setlist and notes are on the next page.