No recess! You're in high school again

Saturday night at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar was like being in high school again, though with noticeably hipper surroundings than the lime green-tiled hallways that haunted my youth. The evening of youthful exuberance I experienced was courtesy of local teen pop/rock group Body For Karate, who turned the Bazaar into a scene reminiscent of a high-school locker room– hot, awkward, and uncomfortable– though the music made all the grimness of metaphorically donning your unwashed sweats more than worth it.

The tables around the Bazaar's stage had been moved to the side (some had even disappeared), showing that the staff was prepared for the worst– a rowdy crowd of pulsating youth. And that was what Body For Karate (B4K) brought along.

After a short opening acoustic act that seemed to abhor amplification so much that I could barely tell they were playing (I called them no-fi), B4K took the stage, and I got my first look at the quartet that has had Charlottesville buzzing.

A drum set, a synthesizer, a guitar, and a bass each had its own young man attached, and quickly enough they began to play. They opened with a song I would describe as "screaming haunted-house pop"– mostly minor keys and frightening turns– and I was soon struck by the group's cross between Devo, Weezer, and possibly the Kinks' more mature Village Green phase.

Things started with a screaming descending waltz time march that also served as the song's middle and end, before quickly slipping into 4/4 for a unique-sounding ditty that was very catchy, though I could not understand any of the words.

A short cover of the A-B-C-D song later, the group began a number that reminded me somewhat of "Love Buzz" by the band Shocking Blue, Nirvana's first-ever single. The beat of the piece and the main riff were similar to that tune, though there seemed to be an air of "My Sharona," the Knack's '79 barn-burner.

Once again, the words were a mystery to me, though not to the audience, who continued singing along to every song, but I did recognize that the muffled melody and the piece's particulars made it probably as intoxicating as that '70s hit.

Body For Karate had a surprisingly strong stage presence for a group so young, a fact that can be attributed to the band playing larger and larger venues around town with increasing frequency– they're even going on a road trip to Vermont next month to play with The Corn Gangg, a new group composed of members of the Montreal-based Unicorns.

I used to feel old back when Ted Stryker's Drinking Problem would perform, and the audience was five or six years younger than me, but Body For Karate kept poking me with the reminder stick over and over– you're advancing in years, you're as old as Methuselah! For the chance of seeing the group again– though with a better sound setup– I'm happy to risk the mental torment.

Body For Karate