By: Katie Barber
After local acts 90s Television, Major Tom & The Moonboys, and Static Replica covered a range of punk rock discography (The Strokes, Ramones, and Misfits, respectively), Starcrawler took the stage at Urban Lounge to wild applause. “Punk,” “rock,” and “Halloween” are just a few words that can be associated with the Los Angeles-based group, whose frontperson Arrow de Wilde has been known to perform in straight jackets and leave stages covered in fake blood.
The stage that Friday night didn’t see any blood, but ominous hints of red peppered the scene in the form of roses that wrapped around drummer Austin Smith’s kit and wound around the amps set up behind guitarist Henri Cash and bassist Tim Franco. A fifth member of the band—an adorable ceramic lamb poised atop an amp—stared out at the audience in a way that was just the right amount of unsettling.
The group released their second album Devour You on Rough Trade Records the very same day they played Salt Lake City—the sixth stop on a 25-city tour. The celebration of the release started out in darkness as Smith and Franco revved up the crowd with a solid rhythm before the stage became bathed in a red hue and de Wilde indicated just how punk the night really was going to get. She practically convulsed on stage, oozing anger and an energy that corroborated the straightjacket/fake blood history.
If a song was happening, everything was in motion. With tracks such as “Pussy Tower” and “Bet My Brains,” Cash enticed the crowd by willing the sound of the guitar out over the audience in close proximity to their heads, playing it away from his body as he produced an electricity that seemed to circle back and force him to move riotously. de Wilde offered a crazy vocal range that matched her maniacal dance moves, which included everything from wrapping the mic cord around her neck as if she were being hanged to demonic backbends. Anything flew during the performance, and the pace of the set only found slight moments of pause when the lights would reduce and the room took a collective breath before the group whipped right into the next song, some of which lasted less than 90 seconds.
“Toy Teenager” and “Train” were a couple of these shorter tracks, which were delivered with such intensity that the transition between them consisted of de Wilde coughing dramatically into the mic, adding to the unnerving chaos and contributing to the visceral drama. As she hit her head with the microphone to match the bassline Franco set up on “Different Angles,” the crowd took a page out of her playbook and began some borderline moshing. At one point, de Wilde ended up crowd surfing, returning to the stage again to accent the lyrics with moans, gasps, and a whole lot of headbanging.
The group inserted one of their most popular songs, “I Love LA,” into the middle of their set. The crowd recognized the track within the first few seconds, carried at first by Cash and interrupted perfectly by Smith and Franco. Cash leapt around the stage, energetically ripping into a Zepplinesque solo for which the entire audience went wild while de Wilde mimicked some sort of possessed marionette. A similar enthusiastic cheer erupted from the attendees when the band covered the Ramones’ “Pet Sematary,” which also appears on the soundtrack for the 2019 version of the film.
de Wilde called upon a little Cherie Currie as she exclaimed the lyrics of “She Gets Around” before bringing the set to a close with “Chicken Woman,” which highlighted the talents of Cash, Franco, and Smith as a raucous, meticulous, seizure-inducing whirlwind of a finale. The group did not re-emerge for an encore, but the crowd seemed satisfied as waves of adrenaline accompanied the reverberating feedback that worked its way through the venue. Starcrawler had left it all on the stage without even shedding blood…this time around.