If you asked me to make a top ten list of my favorite bands of the year thus far, this San Francisco–based garage band would be somewhere near the top. Happy Fangs’ first full-length CD Capricorn debuted in January, and from the very first downbeat, I could feel a strong Soundgarden vibe unfolding. There was the same sinister chord voicing along with the stately grounding of AC/DC, but with a punk-pop vibe and a fresh sense of woman power unknown to either of those two ground-pounders. “Sex is not a thing to me,” sings Rebecca Bortman, “it’s a place I want to go.”
With Michael Cobra on guitar and power-drummer Jess Gowrie, Capricorn is maximum juju from a band that first met back in 2007 in a shared rehearsal space. What’s missing in the final mix? Any noticeable bottom end. Happy Fang is your basic guitar-drum duo with a singer, and even though Cobra’s axe snarls on overdrive, a little bass guitar would be nice. Still, it’s impossible to get mad at Happy Fangs over errors of omission because Capricorn could very well be the best record they will ever make. They get high marks for spontaneity — not one iota of the music sounds like it was planned. Three musicians from different backgrounds put their backs into making music and perfect rock and roll is what came out.
- Thursday, March 5, 2015, 8 p.m.
1271 University Avenue,
Happy Fangs admitted to a reporter once that their songs come from jams. Which also explains their habit of making up a new song on the spot at every show. Free-form is a vulnerable and transparent way to go about performing, but when it works, it is as if the band members are operating with one brain. Is there a big future for them? Who knows? Happy Fangs is about making good music right now and letting tomorrow take care of itself.