It’s another typical afternoon at Zeitgeist: mid-’80s punk rock roaring from the jukebox, the constant clang of beer bottles, the pervasive smell of burgers. "I like these industrial dudes over here," says Brian Hock, the drummer of SF three-piece Bronze. He looks at a gloomily outfitted bunch a few tables away in the gravel pit. "They’re fucking rocking it hard style."
On hearing Hock’s keen observation, I confess to his bandmate Joe Oberjat that when I arrived to meet Bronze on this semi-overcast Saturday afternoon, I initially mistook him for someone at that picnic table a surly-looking, gothed-out version of Mickey Rourke sandwiched in the middle of the pack.
"Which one? The industrial dude?" Oberjat asks.
"He looks a little pissed off," says vocalist Rob Spector. "But he’s about to pound a double shot of whiskey."
While this is my initial in-person meeting with the band, I first caught Bronze last summer, when they gave an unprecedented performance at a July 4 CELLspace event, cleverly titled "Born on the Fourth of Julive." That day, the trio was an unknown element of an awesome bill that included the likes of Death Sentence: Panda!, No Boss, Sic Alps, and Tussle.
Bronze’s set commenced with Hock, Oberjat, and Spector garbed in matching military suits and sitting side-by-side with their heads tilted downward. Three friends then sheared the trio’s locks while a patriotic number spouted over the speakers. After what seemed like nearly 15 minutes of clipping and cutting, the band members finally rose to their feet and played a knockout batch of tunes. The sound: seriously blissed psych drone-scapes and kraut goodness, à la Can and Harmonia, with smatterings of Flowers of Romance-era P.i.L.
"July 4 was definitely a very strategic-type thing," Spector says, laughing. "The haircuts took a really long time I knew [they] were going to take longer then we expected."
"It was also our drunkest show," Oberjat adds.
Drunk or not, the band which formed from the remnants of groups like Fuckwolf, the Vanishing, and Night After Night has a knack for performances that please the eyes as well as the ear. It’s possible to get a sense of this by checking out some of the YouTube videos on Bronze’s MySpace page (www.myspace.com/copperclub). During one clip, shot in Big Sur, Spector teeters back and forth in a crazed manner, his Dave Thomas-tuned warble getting locked in a groove between Hock’s kinetic beats and Oberjat’s jacked-up, skittering synth sounds. A flood of bright colors spills over the group as Oberjat lurches about in the forefront, toying with his signature custom-made boxed-shaped instrument while swooping down occasionally to joust with a heap of floor pedals.
"We enjoy being a bit theatrical sometimes," Hock explains. "We’ll always [do] slight things that maybe no one will notice, but once in a while we ham it up a little bit. If we play, we want to put on a show in some fashion."
Though Bronze has yet to put out an official release, that’ll change in 2009. Queen’s Nails is set to drop the band’s 10-inch self-titled debut, and Hex will issue a 7-inch single. The band is also deep into recording a full-length for Tigerbeat6, which they hope to have ready before heading out for a European tour in the fall.
April 1, 9 p.m., $5
399 Harrison, SF