Don Caballero / Ponytail Lee’s Palace, Toronto ON August 26

Don Caballero / Ponytail Lee’s Palace, Toronto ON August 26
Ponytail were almost an excellent warm-up for the mighty rhythmically warped mind-fuck of Don Caballero. The plucky young experimental aficionados certainly have the musical chops and warped creativity to excite the palettes of Don Cab devotees, if only they were an instrumental act.

What kind of heavily perception altering substances, sessions of primal therapy, or Gorillas In the Mist fever dreams could validate aimless simian screeching delivered with all the tonal inflection of a police siren as a valuable vocal contribution? Thankfully, when Molly Siegel gave her horrid pipes a rest to pump up and down awkwardly in a semi-squatting position, the rest of the band sounded killer. Their frantically adept spazz-outs and unusual guitar work almost made the brutal vocals worth tolerating.

After a quick change over, all was forgotten when Don Caballero strolled onto the stage with delightfully casual cockiness. Virtuoso drummer/mouth-piece Damon Che got the evening rolling with some banter while his Don Cab version 2.0 band-mates tweaked-up their guitar rigs, proclaiming, "I’ve been known to bullshit for 20 minutes before the music even starts and you still get what you paid for!” He’s probably at least half right. But skull-crushing music is the point, and that’s what the Cab brought in spades.

Sticking (I’m pretty sure) exclusively to material composed in this formation, World Class Listening Problem and the freshly released Punkgasm, the trio throttled through plenty of heavily crafted blasts of metallic precision in their blissfully twisted and vicious renderings of rock music. The group seemed exceptionally boisterous and free in this incarnation, playing a song sung by guitarist Gene Doyle and two sung by Che, one of which even had the two switching instruments, a track echoing the Fall, especially Che’s manic yelping vocal delivery.

It’s definitely a new Don Caballero, but the strong camaraderie was infectious, and humorously emphasized. After a short rant denouncing deserter fans, Che took a moment to say, "I just want to get a public record of it out there. If something terrible happens, a truck hits me tonight or tomorrow morning I go face down in the guacamole, these two guys have my permission to make another Don Caballero record using a reasonably talented percussionist or drum machines or whatever, and it’ll be a fucking great Don Cab record.”

After a show this good, you can almost believe him, but his volatile percussion style and personality eradicated his friendly boast. Damon Che is the Don.