Wednesday was a long day for me. I was tired, and questioned how much I really wanted to wander to Sister Bar (407 Central Ave NW) to watch a show alone. I wanted to sleep; I wanted the casual comforts of food and television and the solace of solitude. But what I wanted (as usual) was a far cry from what I needed—and what I needed was a lethal injection of genuine love and kick ass, homegrown jamming to remind me of how remarkable Albuquerque really is.
Despite consciously questioning every step, I found myself speed-walking into Sister Bar, my legs instinctively determined to match the pulsating drums within. Though predictably late to Santa Fe rockers Future Scars’ fierce set, the three songs I witnessed immediately redeemed my decision. Equal parts aggression and control, Marcus DiFilippo’s remarkable drum-work set a furious tone, with flickering keys and cascadingly complex guitar floating just above a cacophony sweltering underneath. Spearheaded by front-woman Eliza Lutz’s feral vocals, the band’s intensity pays testament to their (and our) harsh desert world, a superficially brutal reality that nurtures unparalleled beauty.
Seated behind a drum-set and armed with a guitar and a single drumstick, the one-woman band Clarke & the Himselfs abruptly and unassumingly delivered a mind-blowing feat of musicianship and emotion. While I am sure that much of the conversation around Clarke & the Himselfs revolves around the insane level of talent needed to perform drums, guitar and vocals simultaneously, the music stands on its own merits: obscure and beautiful and profoundly affective in the way only music can be. What Clarke may have lacked in stage presence (and understandably so, given competing priorities needing attention) she more than redeemed in the intimacy of performance, a surrendering of herself to the music that perceptibly affected every member of the audience.
At this point I was already dumbfounded by the degree of talent already displayed on the night; I could have left Sister feeling content and inspired, ready to try my hand one more time with at least some sort of musicality. But the crown jewel of the night was yet to come, and Prism Bitch’s set would leave me feeling electrified and energized, and with a whole new sense of promise for my city.
The best thing I can say about Prism Bitch is that I barely know what to say about their set; the music transcended the moment and I got pulled into a rip tide of the purest fun I have ever been blessed enough to be a part of. From the moment the sweatsuit-clad band stepped on stage, the atmosphere of the room transformed. No longer separate entities, the crowd merged into a volatile concoction of emotion, waiting our galvanic excitement. As the plunging intro of crowd-favorite “You Got I Want” rang out, we burst into life. Love flowed openly from the band towards an adulating crowd that returned their affection tenfold; love manifested itself in the gleaming smiles that shone towards the band, the invigorated bodies that careened across the floor, and the raw energy that crescendoed onstage. The charisma and enthusiasm of Prism Bitch seems to be matched only by the force and purpose that drives their cathartic “desert punk.” The clarity of their musical vision is a reflection of their identity in the community: sexy, angry, proud, fun, and (most importantly) dedicated to one another.
As I stepped out of Sister Bar—far more reluctantly than I had stepped in— I felt alive; I felt like I was a part of something. Prism Bitch is a rare outfit, teeming with power and potential that exceeds any one of them and perhaps even exceeds them as a collective. From what I witnessed, Prism Bitch performs with the might of the community they love, and that so obviously loves them. They have all of the instruments necessary to do great things, for themselves and for Albuquerque; they are doing their part. We must do ours, and the best way to do that is to put ourselves in the positions and places where the opportunity to be inspired can arise. I think a Prism Bitch show is at least a damn good place to start.