No Context: Be Your Own Pet at the Mercury Lounge
Be Your Own Pet
Be Your Own Pet’s new record is called Get Awkward, but they could’ve called it Get Giddy, Go Faster, Can I Borrow Your ID, or Don’t Mess With Nashville, Tennessee. “We’re getting old,” jokes Jemina Pearl, her band having just taken a year off, a year that in teenage time is more like three or four. “Come up here and mess with me.” And how rare is this, someone does.
Like any other band BYOP probably sing about dancing more than they actually go dancing, fighting more than they actually fight, but when Jemina Pearl hits somebody, they go back a few feet at least. Her right has whatever six-foot-something, 200-pound drunk comedian who got onstage to amuse himself or his friends staggering a couple steps, visibly calculating whether he can get away with hitting a girl in front of a few hundred people, what are the chances of him walking out the Mercury Lounge with his dignity intact, etc. He ends up reaching for her; he’s on the ground, and Jonas Stein and Nathan Vasquez are retuning the guitars they detuned laying this guy out on floor. I’ve seen worse fights but maybe none so one-sided.
So maybe call it Get Knocked Out. On Get Awkward, BYOP go looking for somebody to kill, somebody to stab, somebody’s brains they can eat; they go to graveyard parties, food fights, stay up all night. If debut Be Your Own Pet was about riding bikes, having fuuuuuun, adventuring, vacationing, Get Awkward’s the revenge record. In order: Pearl feels like she’s living in a black hole, cheats on her boyfriend cause somebody else makes her stomach hurt more, goes to juvie for stabbing an ex-best-friend, gets out, pops pills, gets in a food fight, confronts the beast within, resolves to just quit sleeping and start living. Stein and Vasquez nod to girl-groups, new-wavers, mock-operatic suites but mostly just play faster; Pearl, confident at 16, stays on her sideways drawl even longer at 20, drawing out the threats, upping the contempt.
At the Mercury Lounge, they were clearly off their game, rusty, out of it a bit after time off. “Sorry about all this tuning shit,” said Stein towards the end, the band’s tommy gun spray slowed to bursts. Yelled an audience member: “That’s what happens when you fuck someone up with your guitar!”