Choking Susan

Choking Susan
333 Live – Los Angeles, CA
By Lucky
Photography by Chryss “ButterknYfe” O’Raidy

Good things come to those whom wait. And wait I did, for Detroit punkers Choking Susan to ply their wears, as it were, in or around the Los Angeles area. Happenstance shined as I recently noticed an event posted that would reward patience. Choking Susan west coast tour, starting May 2014. Fuck me!!!

With the death null of The Vex, the Los Angeles show was quickly rescheduled to 333 Live, a venue that I have been unaware, which houses 3 clubs in one. Sadly a far cry from the legendary Dillon’s once located in once trendy Westwood, CA, but still a venue not lacking in allure.

Mega punk bands appeared at the show and Choking Susan drew an early slot, 7:30ish, making it necessary to hit the 101 during daylight. Break out the Ray Bans. Luckily I hit minimal traffic and an easy in and out lot. Let the games begin.

After a surprise testicle massage thanks to an overzealous bouncer searching for God only knows what, I was greeted by Paul Lunsford, bassist for Choking Susan. Instant camaraderie commenced followed by a directional to the cubbyhole occupied by the Choking Susan vocalist. Years of Internet communiqué were to finally result in an actual face-to-face with one and only, Colleen Caffeine!

Colleen and I spoke to the best of our ability due extreme volume from opening band Corrupted Youth, and she introduced me to photographer Chryss “ButterknYfe” O’Raidy who has graciously agreed to provide images for this Choking Susan review/interview, but any full fledged conversation proved difficult at best. Not to worry, it was Choking Susan show time.

The club was completely dark sans some minuscule blue LEDs that only succeeded in lighting up the background walls, the band were but mere shadows, kind of cool, kind of bizarre. I felt like I was in an underground bunker waiting for the H-Bomb, and it dropped. Choking Susan meant business and it showed as they exploded straight off into “Waste my Time”, a steam shovel slammer that hit you hard and fast.  Don’t blink or you will miss it.

Not looking back, Choking Susan followed through with “Love You So Much It Makes Me Sick” a pogo popper mainstay on the bands rotation. Paul and Killer Keith upfront and furious while Colleen skipped around in a punk rock bratty taunt. Ode to “Flabby Abby” brought high impact blunt trauma with crispy scathing guitar sound via Killer’s amp head. Appears to be a Marshall, but sans logo it could be any variety of tweakage.

The frantic rant of “I’m Alone” ignited thrash induced involuntary spasms. Screaming for a pit, Choking Susan concocted a volatile mix of punk and passion. Bob packed a wallop as I thought the snare was about to fold under pressure. Colleen spoke of the band’s land of origin and then collapsed to her knees as the band went full throttle for “Baby Doll”. Effervescent pigtails swung to and fro while thunderous toms left a massive imprint.

Incorporating reflections of the punk rock subgenre Oi! and east end ‘77; “Cuntopia” came across like an unrelenting anthem from the punk rock annals. Killer bellowed mad dog backing as Paul plundered bottom end. About this time 333 Live flicked the switch and Choking Susan was bathed in white causing a sudden blindness, then adjusted vision.

It occurred to me about mid-flow that the great thing about being a punk band with two to three minute aggressions is it enables a good selection from the outfit’s repertoire to be included in a time constraint set. “Mary Mary” and “Plain Jane”, two unfamiliar but instantly likeable numbers followed suit and it was later in a post-gig interview I discovered theses songs are from the highly anticipated new Choking Susan release entitled “May Cause Impotence”.  I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The ever-manic “Wanker” had Colleen in punk rock cheerleader mode skipping, jumping and rabble rousing. Bob’s high-step spurred fast and furious as Killer and Paul followed suit post haste. The young punk upstarts that were filing in at a steady pace took notice, and by sets end, they displayed genuine admiration.

A sound akin to a re-activated San Fernando Valley cold war siren triggered the onset of “I Wanna be your Wendy O.” While playful in verse, a serious undertone shown through as the band paid homage to the controversial artist.  Colleen used limbs and torso for full effect during “Punker”, another mainstay crowd pleaser.  She highlights visual, a stark contrast to many a mundane.

Rounding out the set was a stunning cover version of The Stooges, “I wanna be Your Dog”. Impeccably performed, with something more, yeah. As the last beat resonated, Colleen strapped on her handbag, grabbed a bottle of water and left the stage. But it wasn’t over by a long shot, at least not for me.  Post-set I had the most wonderful conversation with Colleen and Paul, and it was documented for all to enjoy. I will be posting that in a few days.

Thanks to Choking Susan for making it to L.A. and living up to all my expectations. Thanks to Chryss for the amazing photography and newfound friendship. Chryss sent photos from the reviewed show, as well as from the previous night’s gig in Baldwin Park. I used a little bit of both. Be sure to check out more ButterknYfe photography here. And special thanks goes out to all of you readers, for supporting the scene. Kick Ass !!