*Over the Weekend: No Bunny – Alex's Bar – 8/18/12
*Over the Weekend: Braid – The Glass House – 8/17/12
*Pussy Riot Sentenced to Two Years for Anti-Putin Punk Prayer!
When you listen to Cochinas, your mind will go to dirty places. Not like
that! We're talking a hot, crowded warehouse show; a beer-swilling
house party; a dive bar that doesn't check IDs–the kind of places where
rules appear to be few and the disaster caused by a teenage flash mob is
imminent. It's the kind of party where this OC/South Bay quartet feel
most at home playing their wig-wearing, irreverent, knock-around,
Confined to the velvet stage of Fullerton's Continental Room, guitarists
Mary Anjelica Yurko and Ana “Banana” Chong get a little cagey midway
through the second set of their Monday-night August residency. Polite
clapping from the growing audience doesn't appease them, so they decide
to up their game for a better reaction. Laughing, slamming into each
other, dog-piling and tripping over chords never looked like so much
fun. Bassist Emilio Venegas Jr. (wearing a beret with a long blond wig)
and drummer Anthony Gamez (looking akin to a green-haired Pippi
Longstocking) get caught in the crossfire. Magically, the raw
chord-ripping and gang vocals à la Bikini Kill stay relatively intact
and still sound better than plenty of carbon-copy local acts who don't
have half the stage presence.
“We're a fun bunch to watch, I've been told,” Venegas Jr.
said.”There's one show we played, Banana did the splits while playing
guitar. She was whipping this guy with her hair, and he actually seemed
to like it.”
The band of late-twentysomethings definitely get around. An
unmistakable presence in the Fullerton and San Pedro music scenes, they
employ boundless energy (and a gloriously dingy, gray Chevy Astro van,
dubbed the “Cochina Mobile”) to keep on a steady diet of shows,
including their current Continental residency. Under blood-red lights,
songs such as “Bitch Be Cool” and “Omaha” are given a respectable venue,
which Chong and Yurko quickly defile with their empowering,
skirt-raising abandon and riffs that vacillate between sugary, coy
garage pop and shrill, early Misfits flavor.
Venegas Jr. has the technical classification for their sound: “theatrical, surf-pop, dirty, bubblegum punk.”
Theatrical? Remember the wigs? The idea for the boys to play dress-up
came from Chong and Yurko's initial desire to start an all-girl band.
Apparently, this was an easy fix. Fullerton vet Yurko befriended Chong
and Venegas Jr. in the South Bay area by constantly running into them at
parties and shows, eventually agreeing to jam. After a brief rotation
of drummers, Gamez and his machine-gun fills were added to the mix, on
the condition he could rock a cheap, green wig like a man.
“We put the wig on him, and it was like Cinderella–as soon as the wig fit right, we knew it was meant to be,” Yurko says.
Recently, the band popped their touring cherry after a little less
than a year together, playing a barrage of shows in Oakland and
Sacramento (winning support and a place to crash from Bay Area punk
demigod No Bunny). Their five-song EP, released independently, is a
teaser for a forthcoming album with a few 7-inch split records in
Their multilayered sound, highlighted by Chong's doo-wop backing
vocals and Yurko's trembling, musical-theater pipes, elevate the snotty,
breakneck attack of “Kittens” into a tuneful, record-ready gem.
After thriving inside a pocket of hard-charging upstarts in the
house-party punk scene, Cochinas are taking their sound into some
classy, OC establishments. Just so long as they don't forget to slut it
up once they get onstage.
“There was one show, I remember, we forgot our wigs,” Venegas Jr. says. “Worst show we ever played.”
“Yeah, the wigs definitely give us our mojo,” Gamez says.
Cochinas perform with Bad Cop/Bad Cop and White Night at Continental Room, www.thecontinentalroomfullerton.com. Mon., 10 p.m. Free. 21+.