The intimate setting of Cafe Du Nord perfectly nestled the loud and raunchy music blasting forth from the amplifiers the Paranoyds had scattered across the stage Friday night. Audience members young and old, and even a service dog, could be found getting into the music. Couples danced together, those alone put their drinks up and everyone in between headbanged to the beat. Amid the bright red wash of light over the venue and the ominous guitar licks, the Paranoyds delivered a performance straight out of a 2000s horror B-movie.
The Paranoyds formed in Los Angeles, with keyboardist Laila Hashemi, guitarist Lexi Funston and bassist Staz Lindes making up the original core of the band. Drummer David Ruiz joined in 2015. The group has released six EPs since 2016, and finally released its debut album Carnage Bargain Sept. 13. Currently, the Paranoyds are on a tour of the West Coast to promote the album.
Shutups and Grumpster — two indie bands from Oakland — opened for the Paranoyds, delivering energizing sets despite the brevity. Grumpster in particular tapped into the rowdy nature of the crowd, instigating multiple mosh pits in between witty commentary. Drinks were spilled and fans were sprawled out on the ground but were immediately helped to their feet, only to continue moshing.
The Paranoyds came on stage as the mass of bodies in front of them expanded in size, each member downing shots of liquor in preparation for a driving set. The group launched into the starting track from Carnage Bargain, aptly titled “Face First,” as the music felt like being pleasantly shoved face first into a wave of whining guitars and tight drums. After finishing the title track of the album, “Carnage Bargain,” Lindes proudly announced that this was the band’s first headlining show, a clear milestone of how far the group has come since conception.
Before the group began playing its hit song “Girlfriend Degree,” Funston made clear to the crowd that, “this one goes out to the service dog.” The song — known for its denouncement of female stereotypes and 1960s, Barbie-themed music video — was played with a perfect mix of blasé and angst. While the vocals were barely audible over the loud gravel of the guitar, the drone of voices from Funston, Lindes and Hashemi achieved the desired disinterested effect of a woman fed up with men.
The quartet surprised the audience with a number from a 2017, titled “Pet Cemetery.” Much to everyone’s amusement, Funston put on a bear mask to complement the song title as she shredded on the guitar. Funston’s antics even caused the mask to slip off her face and shatter the illusion she had held the audience’s attention with. She twirled around, squatted and hunched over — embracing both the mask’s primal nature and the growling undertones of the song.
Ending with “Bear,” a wistful punk track about wanting to quite literally be a bear — the Paranoyds hopped off stage, urging the audience to come say hello at the merch table in the back. Although various members of the crowd shouted for an encore, the show had come to an end, albeit a satisfying one.
The Paranoyds are far from your average modern punk band. The band played a set of loud, dark music that embraced the aloof nature of punk music — but with an almost emotional twist taken from 1970s rock influences. While a large amount of today’s punk-heavy music fails to innovate and properly “stick it to the man,” the Paranoyds bring a refreshing take to the genre. The group draws from a wide selection of music evident in its foundational sound, while still being appropriately masked by the power chords known and loved. It’s clear a substantial amount of time and effort went into the production and honing of the songs on Carnage Bargain, which not only made for a great album, but a great show as well.
Highlights: “Pet Cemetery,” “Egg Salad,” “Girlfriend Degree”
Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected].