The show begins like a strange protest in an absurd country. Veiled women walk into the room carrying septagram-bedecked banners. Then comes a masked dude on an adult-sized tricycle, loaded up with speakers, followed by other masked men carrying more speakers on their backs. Each of these rigs is self-powered, just like you'd see in street theater. There is even a strong whiff of B.O. to complete the scene.
Enter the drums. Itchy-O bills itself as a 32-piece marching band, and that's not complete without snare drums, bass drums, multi-tenor drums, cymbals, and why not throw in some Japanese taiko drums to boot?
The downstairs crowd at Los Globos probably numbers 50 people, and we'd all been fairly sedate during the opening acts, which included Chicago-based Loto Ball, who yelled in a bizarre, perhaps European language, and L.A. boys Last Days of Ancient Sunlight, whose three-piece rock sounded a bit like the Butthole Surfers with a couple layers of weird washed off.
During those two sets, we were the audience, buying beers and standing around, and they were the performers, holding court on stage and entertaining us. But once you're surrounded by drums, speakers and masked dancers, there's no way you can keep your tush from moving and becoming part of the show.
Band meetings for Itchy-O, a Denver-based ensemble, probably go a little something like this:
“Wouldn't it be cool if I ______?”
“Heck yeah, do it!”
Filling in that blank are men and women in motorcycle helmets, balaclavas, sombreros, berets, kilts and veils. They're banging on drums, strumming guitars, playing Theremins, dancing with the crowd, crawling on the floor, putting their hands on our foreheads, blowing giant smoke rings, walking around with leaf blowers and generally rocking out. Oh yeah, there's also a Chinese dragon curving its way through the crowd the entire time.
This band can't be good for bar sales. You don't want to miss a moment.
The actual music isn't as crazy as the setup. There are sirens, screeches and drones, but when you put a dozen drummers together, they're going to settle into a rhythm and carry everything else along.
The beat slows down, speeds up, slows down, speeds up. The crowd is jumping. They've quit Instagramming. A guy stands on a speaker and starts giving what sounds like a political speech in an ancient language. We play along. He has our vote.
After an hour of madness, the sounds of digitized cow moos start trickling over the backpack speakers. The beat slows down again. The band filters out, and suddenly the space feels so empty. We all look at each other, knowing we shared a moment, but not sure what the heck it was.