Both Kassie Carlson, lead vocalist of Guerrilla Toss, and the members of Cheer-Accident wore rather nondescript attire as they set up for their show at the Horn Gallery last Saturday. Carlson seemed unassuming as she stood over a vocal mixer in pigtails and a pair of denim overalls. Cheer-Accident drew a crowd older than the typical Horn audience and looked like a polished, soft rock group. But both bands unleashed powerful waves of punk and noise rock instead.
Guerrilla Toss formed in 2011, in Boston, Mass., according to their Spotify profile. Their music combines an eclectic variety of genres, including funk, punk and psychedelic rock. Juno Fullerton ’19 brought the band to the Horn after reaching out to them via Instagram direct messenger. “I really like the genre, and they play a lot of cool instruments together,” Fullerton said.
Carlson shifted between spoken and sung vocals while the rest of the band wove a tapestry of seemingly unrelated rhythms and riffs. Saturday was one of Cooper’s first shows with the band. The result was a chaotic blend of sounds that the audience jumped and grooved along to with high energy. The set was paired with colorful stage lights.
“We bring the lights around for most shows,” Carlson said. “We love those things.”
Cheer Accident formed in 1981. Drummer Thymme Jones took the name from a Hallmark greeting card display at a store in Illinois. Since then, the membership of the group has changed. Today, it is composed of Jones, Dante Kester on bass, Jeff Libersher on guitar and Amelie Morgan on “vocals, piano and its innards,” according to the band’s website. During the first song, which featured drums, bass and guitar alone, Davis did yoga on the floor of the Horn, setting the stage for an unconventional set to follow. Associate Professor of Music Ross Feller stood in front of a music stand, illuminated by a clip-on light, to rail through several chaotic saxophone solos. The result was an eerie and fluid sound somewhat reminiscent of a haunted circus.
Feller met Jones and Libersher in his dorm as a first year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He had been trying to bring Cheer-Accident to Kenyon for several years. “I just have the utmost respect for a group that’s been doing it for 19 albums,” Feller said.
Cheer-Accident broke up the high intensity of its set with a soft, melodic song, during which Jones sang in falsetto. Students and older audience members alike alternated between dancing and a seemingly mesmerized stillness as the band ran through its songs. Toward the end of their performance, members of the band stood completely still for about a minute and a half before resuming the show. According to Feller, this was an abridged version of something they did at bigger shows. In college, Feller, Jones and Libersher used to do the same thing on their way to classes. They would “all of a sudden stop in our tracks in some position — we’d call that assuming a position — sometimes for hours, and people would come and poke us,” Feller said. “We also did that in the basement of dormitories.”
This comment may have seemed far-fetched without the wild energy of Saturday’s set to match it. “I think [the bands] went well together,” Fullerton said. “It seemed like [they] had a good time, and other people had a good time.”