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Lucid Dementia/The Tuna Helpers
Elysium : August 19, 2003

The bill for this Tuesday night at Elysium was Blazetek2, The Tuna Helpers and Lucid Dementia. Of the three bands, I had seen Lucid Dementia before and had only heard of The Tuna Helpers. It had been at least two years and one female vocalist ago that I had last heard anything Lucid Dementia had done. As for The Tuna Helpers, all I had heard of the band was a friend of mine who told me, "they're interesting." Blazetek2 was going to be the suprise of the night, with no bias I firmly thought that I would be able to give that band a completely fair shot. Fair can bite.

Blazetek2 can best be described as a band in it's formative stages. If you pay attention to the seperate elements of the band they have some solid components, the lead singer had a commanding presence and voice, to go along with her Sinead O'Connor speaking short haircut. The lead guitarist had the talent and definately the finger style for playing the instrument, unfortuantely he also gave off the aura of a Sammy Hagar stunt double. The thing that rubbed me the wrong way with Blazetek2 was that they have good elements in their music. They have a talented vocalist and guitarist along with the rest of the band, however all those elements didn't mix well at all. Kinda like vodka and yogurt. You can probably stomach it, but you know it wasn't a good idea. On top of that they had very little original material, (I'm also willing to accept that fact that they may have had no original material and I just didn't recognize what I had heard) which made them the vodka and yogurt mistake I had made before. On the upside, Blazetek2 does have the makings of something that I would go see, but they need to pull their shit together and polish it off before I'd do it again.

The Tuna Helpers took the stage next and I have to admit that "interesting" was the word. Though not as bizarre as some of the acts that I've seen roll through Austin, The Tuna Helpers do have a kind of strange cuteness going for them. They were more strange than cute, with the onstage performances and attention to theatrics definately setting them apart from just a girl band with funny songs. Three of the four band members were female and the lead singer Adrienne Sneed's stage personality of upbeat bouncy near neurosis was the perfect face to the sound that The Tuna Helpers had. I have to admit that I'm not sure what sound exactly that is, The Tuna Helpers can't really be classified into a genre or at least not into any genre that I know of. It's got some elements of punk and some elements of more comedic acts like Tenacious D. It also has the bizarre mix of truly entertaining song writing, sign language translations, lively performers, solid musical talent, and puppets. Ah yes, puppets. pure un-adulterated puppets. Several of the songs where sung with the help of an onstage puppet theatre sporting articulated puppets that sang with Operatic voices. All of the songs whether featuring puppet vocals or not, were cleverly written and entertaining as hell. All in all, the bottom line is that although they might be seen as a novelty act I would definately pay the club cover to see this band again.

The last and headlining band was Lucid Dementia. It had been at least two years since I had first seen and heard Lucid Dementia at the Atomic cafe. At that first show I was introduced to Luci, the creation of the band's lead singer, programmer, and founder, Sheldon. Luci can really only be best described as a skeletal alien, Jim Henson, drug induced vision. The exact concept and creation of the puppet is a little obscure but I did get at least one version of the story. Apparently Sheldon, at one point, had a problem with stage fright. Luci is the product of the search for a working solution that would get Sheldon onstage and his music out of his skull and into the ears of an audience. By using the full body puppet of Luci to be the persona of the lead singer in the band, Sheldon was able to deal with performing and ease into the roll of front man. Luci the skeletal full body puppet is now no longer needed in the same way that he/she/it used to be. Sheldon has since gotten over his fear but the puppet has stayed as the namesake of the band and probably the most recognized part of it. Luci only makes it's appearance for the first few songs of the show now, but Sheldon himself has developed into a animated performer which has more than compensated. He, along with latest female vocalist Holly, have a good energy though I think that they still need to develop a little better chemistry between the two. Holly herself seems to be a bit too reserved for the music involved. That music is one that has changed since I last listened to Luci. Previously, the sound was more electronic than anything else. Now, the sound has gotten harder and more aggressive. More guitars have overtaken the synthetic sounds that were the backbone of the Lucid Dementia style before. There are still some synthetics involved in the band but if Lucid Dementia could still be considered an electronic band then they're on the guitar side of KMFDM if anything. I was always entertained by Lucid Dementia, the sheer novelty of puppets was enough to do it for me. Now though, the band sounds much better and the changes have really done a lot to improve their appeal for me. I'm real curious to see what else is going to happen with Lucid Dementia and how else their music is going to evolve. This is a band that I will be checking on in the future.

-Darren Davila