The Phenomenauts

The Chico Area Pyrate Punx tend to get a lot of grief from some vocal members of the community, and very little attention from the local media. I don’t understand why this is. For the better part of a decade, the group has done nothing less than work tirelessly to siphon an endless stream of eclectic bands—primarily punk and the offshoots of that genre—into the Chico music scene. Their main venue has been Monstro’s Pizza on Sacramento Avenue, an unassuming pizza joint by day that is rearranged and rendered into an all-ages rock venue by night. I would have given my eyeteeth for a place like Monstro’s when I was growing up. There’s sawdust on the floor, pizza, loud live music, and cheap bottles of beer available for those over the age of 21. Monstro’s is an intimate space, and the Pyrate Punx have been throwing shows there long enough that they’ve got it pretty well dialed; bands playing in there can sound rather decent.

If you haven’t been to catch a show at Monstro’s before, you’ve got the perfect opportunity coming up as the Oakland-based Phenomenauts make their way to our town, bringing with them their own patented brand of “rocket-roll.” There are plenty of bands out there who think it’s perfectly fine to show up in their street clothes and take to the stage, but the Phenomenauts are definitely not one of them. When this band puts on a show it is a genuine, bonafide, get goofy, good time, rocking SHOW!



Science and Honor!

Trying to objectively describe the entertainment these gentleman bring won’t do it justice, so instead I’m going to let my friend Louis T. Wermann describe his mind-blowing experience at a Phenomenauts show he caught a few years back. Without further ado, here is Louis’ account:


[Begin transcript]

“I was walking around downtown when some kind of spacecraft—a silver-plated van with jets and lights all over it—pulled up. The men who got out were all wearing space suits, like out of Star Trek or something. I’m not a big science-fiction guy, but they definitely looked high-tech—like light-years in the future. One of the men invited me inside the vessel and it was incredible, like nothing I’ve ever seen. There were lights, and gadgets, they had remote controls…space stuff. I don’t know how long I was in the van. I was really wiped, weirded out, flying around on another plane. We went off into space and when we came down they were inside, and I was watching this unbelievable rock show.

“The guys I was just partying with were on stage now. There were spiraling colors, throbbing lights, steam and smoke pouring forth from bizarre, futuristic gizmos they’d brought with them. The instruments were made from space alloys; they made the strangest sounds.

“Music—the space music this band played, it moved the audience. You could feel yourself, like the silver surfer or something, you know, riding through space on a magic board, carving sweeping turns out of galaxies and quasars. But then there were old school elements to it too: classic Fender electric guitars and an upright bass, a rockabilly beat with the keyboards pushing behind it, over it, washing over us. The girls in the audience were glowing and dancing. I don’t know what they’d given me in the van—space drugs, projected intelligence maybe—but my consciousness was alternating between dimensions. They were a bunch of guys playing surf rock, then they were spacemen playing space rock, then there were aliens emitting music telepathically. We were away, off in some distant corner of the Universe…

“And then I found myself back on Earth, my head clearer than it had ever been—as though they had injected science, and honor, directly into my brain. The world vibrated with a mystical ringing I hadn’t ever heard before. The pores in the sidewalk smiled up at me; I could feel the molecules that comprised my physical body swirling and transitioning with all the other molecules; the illusion of my separation from the world at large fell away. I dropped to my knees, joined the Universe, and wept. I realized I’d been abducted—by the Phenomenauts—but instead of feeling violated or experimented upon, like you hear about in so many alien abduction tales, I felt uplifted, educated and exonerated…”

[End transcript]

Now certainly Louis’ experience with the Phenomenauts is unique, but live music has the potential to create those life-altering moments, and the Phenomenauts playing up close and personal at Monstro’s might be the event that stretches your consciousness. Come down and let yourself be abducted by the music of these modern-day space cadets.

Rounding out the bill are the Black Market Prophets, bringing their brand of “original American music” from Richmond, CA, and Chico’s very own punk/ska outfit Big Tree Fall Down. Five dollars gets you in the door for a full night of rock.

The Phenomenauts with Black Market Prophets and Big Tree Fall Down at Monstro’s Pizza Thursday June 13th, 8pm. All ages, $5 cover

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Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.