Review: The zombie apocalypse hits the Pegasus Lounge
Call me old-fashioned if you must. But I've always felt that when you attend a zombie party at a club best known for its unique blend of karaoke and porn, you expect to see face-painting death metal bands like Ovid's Withering, above.
You do not expect to hear a screamo version of Eddie Murphy's Party All The Time performed by a man in a banana costume.
I suppose I'm just a traditionalist that way.
However, in this case, Party All The Time -- performed Thursday night by Defy the Tides -- was kickass, and so was the banana costume (photographic proof after the jump!).
And to be fair, the Pegasus Lounge isn't ONLY known for "pornaoke" -- but come on, they do offer it every Wednesday, and what other club do you know that can say that? Pornaoke is basically karaoke with an adult film playing on a screen behind you. I saw it a few years back, and it is the least erotic thing you can possibly imagine.
The Pegasus is known for metal, and punk, and sludgy open mics, and it is dark, no-nonsense and just a little bit scary*. It is not a hipster dive; it is an angry, scuzzy, tattooed box. And yet the entire night, everyone there (maybe 50 or 60 people) seemed to be having such a good time, I could feel the camaraderie bouncing off the wood-paneled walls.
The good vibes may have been due to the fact that this was billed as a zombie party, and there was a guy there offering free zombie makeup for patrons. Now, I'm not a dedicated member of Tampa's zombie subculture, but I know it exists, and I know the Pegasus is one of its hubs.
Unfortunately, the zombie-makeup guy was about it. I was a little disappointed at the lack of zombie iconography on display Thursday night. Aside from some sheets of plastic splattered with red paint, the bar looked about the same as it always does**.
I got there just in time to miss Holly Maddux, an extremely heavy sextet I was actually looking forward to seeing. Instead, I caught the post-hardcore Tampa group Defy the Tides (the banana group, above). Very Senses Fail, very Poison the Well, very Victory Records. (The Party All The Time cover seems tailor-made for one of those "pop goes punk"-style albums.)
At different points during the set, three different dudes sang lead vocals. One was the heavy, gutteral woofer, one was had more of a modern-rock-radio Aaron Lewis voice, and then another specialized in the Chris Carrabba emo yelp. All together, it made for a potent metal cocktail. Or should I say, "rocktail"? No? Moving on.
I was less impressed by the next group, Tampa's Weight of the World, who were playing their next-to-last show. It took them a whopping five attempts to get their set started***, and even then, they had to do it with a borrowed amp. I did enjoy the manic, mischievous, possibly alcohol-addled antics of their frontman, who grinned constantly and danced around the stage in a manner that reminded me of an impish Serj Tankian.
And then, after a soundcheck and makeup session that dragged on for at least an hour, Ovid's Withering marched onstage.
"Ovid's Withering" may sound like the name of a harlequin romance, but rest assured, this was straight-up Tampa death metal -- black robes, pentagrams, devilish KISS makeup and all. After a brief intro song that sounded like a White Zombie song, all six members convened onstage and raised their hands in the sky as if in some sort of invocation. Audience members did the same.
At this point, you might be thinking, "That sounds ridiculous." Well, yes, it was a little ridiculous. But the guys in the band seemed to know it, at least on some level, because they were chuckling and joking with the crowd.
Their drummer was just sick. Their singer, who literally drank pitchers of water onstage, had the best metal growl of the night, hands down. I will pay them the highest compliment one can pay a death metal band: They were brutal.
All night, kids slam-danced and headbanged, hairwhipped and punched the air. That is metal -- and exactly what you would expect from a zombie party.
Next up in The 50-50 Club: Drowning Pool, Aug. 28 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Tampa.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*
* Way back in April, when I launched this ridiculous summer journey of mine, I promised I would answer the following question: "At the Pegasus Lounge, do the urinals contain blocks of ice or deoderizing cakes?" I am happy to report that the answer is "deoderizing cakes" ... and, um, cigarette butts. Seriously, this bathroom is horrifying, like something out of House of 1,000 Corpses. But the Pegasus isn't all scary. There are two televisions behind the bar, and guess what they were tuned to? The Golf Channel and Discovery. Go figure.
** One weird thing I saw: At 2 a.m., there was a guy doing ab crunches on a barstool in the middle of the floor. Explain THAT.
*** The crowd let them hear it, too, albeit in a friendly, joking manner. "It's okay, we all know you're Ashlee Simpson," one guy said. "Just make this your rehearsal!" someone else yelled.