GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH + SUSAN + VNLVX @ THE ECHO
Photos by Maximilian Ho Words by Madison Desler
Riding in on a rogue wave from the Pacific Northwest, Guantanamo Baywatch (aka the power trio of guitarist/frontman Jason Powell, bassist Chevelle Wiseman and drummer Chris Scott) hit The Echo stage last night, sweeping up every concert-goer in their path.
Peddling a winning combination of surf, garage, and an underbelly of punk muscle, Guantanamo Baywatch come to party. This is music to dance to, to drink to — the perfect soundtrack for the tiki lounge and the mosh pit.
Marking their territory with a monstrous instrumental, the band barely got their bearings before the crowd turned into a churning, swirling pool of sweaty, super-stoked kids. By the time “Video” rolled around—the Wiseman-powered sex-tape song off their latest album, Desert Center — everyone was movin’ and groovin,’ the party-band sign of a job well done.
Other tracks from the new album formed the backbone of the setlist—the soul throwback “Neglect” and the grunge-tinged “Blame Myself” separating fiery instrumentals like “The Scavenger” and “Area 69.” There’s definitely something to be said for a band that can get a crowd just as riled up without any vocals—an impressive feat that Guantanamo Baywatch does every night.
Powell didn’t say much, though he did shout-out an audience member celebrating their 30th birthday, playing “Sad Over You” per special request. When asking for more requests, he was asked to do everything from “Pretty Woman” to “some fucking Pantera,” ultimately going with one of their signature songs, “It’s Too Late.” Donning a University of Arizona sweatshirt that came off halfway through the set, he ripped through every solo with ease. More impressive when you consider his hair was hanging down in his face like Cousin Itt—forming such a complete curtain that he was actually drinking his beer through it.
If Powell brings the Dick Dale shred and Scott brings the massive Ventures beat, Wiseman brings the punk—her ripped tights and power stance serving as badass accompaniments to her heavy riffs. She almost singlehandedly propelled the instrumental “Mr. Rebel” into one of the best cuts of the night, her sweat-dampened hair swinging back and forth as she danced around the stage bare-foot.
Playing until just after midnight, the band was urged back onto the stage by shouts of “One more song,” playing another instrumental as the strobe lights pulsed over the night’s final mosh pit.