Sensory Overload: Members of Cadaver Dogs and Foxy Shazam come together in the Skulx
The Skulx, a newborn band featuring members of Cadaver Dogs and Foxy Shazam, managed to cover both Tom Petty and Electric Light Orchestra during a recent Thursday performance at Spacebar while simultaneously sounding like neither. Rather, the five-piece injected both works with a shot of live-wire energy akin to Uma Thurman's "Pulp Fiction" character taking a syringe of adrenaline direct to the heart.
Indeed, a more representative list of the group's influences might include things like hi-octane gasoline, 180-proof liquor and motorcycle fumes rather than the musical output of the prog-rock kingpins in ELO, though the bandmates did justice to the source material with their lean, scuzzy take on "Long Black Road."
Skulx's unhinged musical direction shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's caught shows by either Cadaver Dogs (the duo's debauched brand of rock 'n' roll is perhaps best encapsulated in the text drummer Lex Vegas had printed on his T-shirt on this night: "Lex Vegas Got Me Pregnant") or Foxy Shazam, a theatrical Cincinnati crew whose concerts borrowed elements from arena-era Queen and carnival freak shows.
At its best, Skulx's music melded these worlds, blurring the line between Cadaver Dogs' revved-up blues rawk and Foxy's more glam-oriented output. Such was the case on the turbocharged "Do What You Do," where singer/trumpeter Alex Nauth growled lines like "Why can't I be more apathetic?" atop a caffeinated guitar thrash that suggested mentally checking out was no longer within the realm of possibility. "Cool Breeze," in turn, incorporated strutting, bluesy passages and comparatively swinging brass outbursts courtesy of Nauth and his trumpet.
Altogether, the bandmates logged just over half an hour onstage - or at least in proximity to the stage, as it were. At various points, guitarist Mat Franklin ventured into the audience, staking out a spot near the center of the small crowd and adopting a wide stance as if to steady himself against the earth-disrupting volume created by his instrument. The animated Nauth also wandered out amongst the masses in those rare times he wasn't belting out words from his knees, rolling around on the ground or lifting his mic stand triumphantly skyward in a pose that echoed Conan the Barbarian from the classic film poster. On this night, at least, the musicians earned it.