By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — One of the most popular garage-punk outfits to emerge in the past decade from the hotbed of Memphis (home of noted underground imprint Goner Records, which holds it’s unhinged annual Gonerfest every fall), Ex-Cult got it’s start in 2011 when five musicians from various hardcore, psych and indie-pop backgrounds first came together.
The band managed to put out two independent singles under their original name Sex Cult before getting a cease-and-desist letter from an NYC techno label that forced them to adopt their current moniker. Delivering a feral take on kinetic garage-rock sounds highlighted by the careening, reverb-drenched vocals of frontman Chris Shaw, it wasn’t too surprising that the band found a kindred spirit in prolific psych/punk wunderkind and then SF resident Ty Segall after he saw them perform at South By Southwest in Austin.
Signed to Goner, the band recorded its explosive self-titled 2012 debut in San Francisco with Segall producing. The record established the quintet as another able representative to the Memphis punk sound, ably following in the footsteps of The Oblivions, The Reigning Sound and the numerous projects of the late, great Jay Reatard. Several singles and their follow-up effort Midnight Passenger in 2014 solidified that reputation.
The band has maintained a close relationship to San Francisco ever since, frequently visiting during its incessant tours across the country and continuing to work with local (if now relocated to Los Angeles) legends Segall and John Dwyer. Shaw teamed with Segall and Segall’s Fuzz bandmate Charlie Moothart to form the band GØGGS, while Dwyer’s label Castle Face put out Ex-Cult’s Cigarette Machine EP in 2015. The following year, the band released their blistering third album and debut full-length for In the Red Records entitled Negative Growth.
While the band has yet to release any new material since then outside of a 7-inch single for German label Red Lounge Records, Shaw has stayed busy with the recent release of a second GØGGS album and tour that recently hit the Independent. The group returns to SF Tuesday night fresh from an appearance at the garage/psych-focused Desert Daze festival in Southern California to headline what is sure to be a tightly packed show at the Make-Out Room. Presented by Talent Moat, the new live music event organization run by Anthony Bedard who was booker for the now sadly closed Hemlock Tavern, the show will also feature SF noise-rock band Violent Change with new local band Modern Dance (a group featuring members of Life Stinks and Rays!) opening the show.
Tuesday, October 16, 9 p.m. $10