Material: Punk rock can sometimes appear to be fighting its own internal battle. On one hand, the genre can offer up some of the most inventive, eclectic music that rock & roll has produced—from Suicide to Talking Heads, Pere Ubu to Magazine. On the other, there’s the mindset that punk should stay within certain rigid parameters. Three chords, wild makeup, plaid, that sort of thing. The beauty of Stormhouse is that the Santa Ana band straddles that line, toys with the schizoid, with wild joy. The band’s music is intense—Medina’s quickfire vocal delivery reminiscent of X-Ray Spex’s Poly Styrene but with elements of rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson. Throw in some Dead Kennedys, The Bags and a dab of Social Distortion and you have a band with one foot in the traditional while creating something entirely new.
Musicianship: While the strength of the band is in the unit, there is a lot to enjoy individually. Guitarist, and founding member, Becerra, pulls some eccentric and deliciously quirky noises from his instrument, while the rhythm section expertly frame the while thing. There’s also a Latin edge that sets Stormhouse apart from other similar bands. Some of the band members were previously in the group Spanish Daggers, and that cultural diversity creates magic.
Performance: All eyes are on Medina as the singer whirls and wizzes around the Alex’s Bar stage. That attention appears to be by design too; the three musicians set themselves back and stay fairly still, doing their jobs and doing them well. But Medina is the show-woman. She smiles wide between songs, but then is all steel-eyed concentration while belting out lyrics. Her enthusiasm is infectious, but then a glance around reveals that the three guys are having a great time too. Essentially, Stormhouse puts on a killer live show with plenty of between-song banter.
Summary: On a midweek evening in Long Beach, Stormhouse was the opening band on a three-act bill, headlined by Russian surfrockers Messer Chups. The venue is perfect for this local group—Alex’s is the type of place with the type of crowd that genuinely gives opening bands a shot. They know their punk rock in particular, and Stormhouse did a great job of kicking off a superb night. Importantly, Stormhouse weren’t forgotten when the whole evening was over, and that’s an achievement in itself.