Sarushibai (猿芝居)

Saturday, November 11

9 p.m.

$10-15 suggested donation

21 and older

Bootleg Hill Honey Meads continues to surprise with the wide range of music bouncing off its imposing walls on a given weekend. From acoustic singer/songwriters to small cover acts, from country to blues to folk to straight-up rock and roll, not to mention the occasional noise or experimental show, the meadery has the most unpredictably diverse live entertainment in the Quad Cities (barring, of course, Rozz-Tox, whose eclecticism has been their M.O. from day one).

Saturday, November 11 marks a new milestone for Bootleg Hill. After an early evening performance by Dave Killinger, a QC folkie known for his uncanny channeling of the late Gordon Lightfoot, the meadery will host its first Japanese band as part of a raucous four-band punk bill kicking off around 9 p.m.

Sarushibai (猿芝居) are a three-piece from Fujioka City, Japan, crashing merrily around the USA in support of their new album 日​陰​者​の​矜​持 (loosely translated to Pride of a Person in the Shadows.) It's a slim, clamorous ten-song rush of energetic power-chord chug. The lyrics are “mostly about conflict, loneliness, and allenation in society,” yet the overall delivery is still … fun. It's a proper punk-rock package of protest and angst played by guys who seem to be having a good time venting their spleens, with the kind of energy best experienced in a live setting. “Optimistic fire” is the descriptor their record label uses, and a better one is probably not necessary. It's generally advisable to catch any Japanese punk show going down in Iowa, and with Sarushibai being the first to hit Bootleg Hill, even non-punks may went to check things out.

Three more Midwestern bands representing different spots on the “punk” spectrum are filling out the bill. God's Hands come Iowa City. Little can be found about them on the Internet, apart from a description as “post-punk.” That particular stylistic distinction, more a state of mind than a hard-and-fast set of musical rules (in fact, many “post-punk” bands prefer to express themselves at a slower tempo) has long been favored as a means for bands to express generally negative musings on life and society, going all the way back to the likes of Killing Joke and Public Image Ltd. With a name like God's Hands, coming from one of the reddest and most evangelical states in the nation, a particularly strong image is cast.

Heavy Shelling come from St. Louis. Their debut is real racket, a slew of short blasting tunes about dogs, cats, shitty neighbors, pizza, dads, Frasier, and lonely crabs. These guys are clearly angry, clearly having fun, and combining the two in a way that is less optimistic than Sarushibai but more direct in its-not-quite-sloppy musicianship. They seem like they'd be a real hoot in person.

Nonnie Parry

Opening the night is the neuromantic goth-punk of Nonnie Parry. Coming across like a bar band somewhere deep in the sprawl, a detail from a post-tech William Gibson nightmare, Nonnie Parry have perhaps the best guitar tone in the Quad Cities. Their square-wave distorto-crunch rides hard under Rachel's cold-blooded cold-stare vampire vocals, a grim monotone that locks you in place while slowly trampling you with ice-cold platform boots. Billy is threatening to add keys and a drum-machine to their frozen goth-rock, recently filled out with welcome bottom end. Come early to see them make a sadly rare local appearance.

Though Bootleg Hill has become a local fixture and a regional name in mead production, with its meads making it to Chicago and points west, its tireless proprietors have been on sadly shaky ground for the past year. Landlord issues and a threatened eviction in favor of a sports bar (!!!) forced Bootleg Hill to set up a GoFundMe last year to meet expenses.

While the crisis seemed to have blown over, for a time, the ground is once again shaking beneath the catacombs of the stately stone building. The optional $10 to $15 donation to the Sarushibai show goes to help pay bands, but the meadery still has an active GoFundMe ( set up to meet its expenses. This is, of course, in addition to its many fine home-brewed products available for sale at Bootleg Hill and other locations in the region. A good music venue is a precious thing to have and a worse thing to lose, especially when said venue is bolstered by local production of an environmentally sustainable product.

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