Show Review: Caleb De Casper at Cheer Up Charlie’s

by James Fisk

Photos by Adrian Gandara

Caleb De Casper

A sleepy, overcast Tuesday night felt as good as any to make the windows rattle at Cheer Up Charlie’s indoor stage. A triple bill of Vertical Vice, Caleb De Casper and Stretch Panic played to a mix of fans, friends, bemused Red River barhoppers and bewildered out-of-towners.

As drinks ebbed from the untrafficked bar and each act filled the tight space with their own formidable noise, it felt like the chilly spring evening could be banished, if only for a bit.

Vertical Vice

Vertical Vice opened the night with rhythmic, uptempo post-punk. Guitarist and vocalist Jason Smith’s fingers darted across his guitar delivering dynamic, sparkling riffs, and while on the mic he served deadpan, winking lyrics. Almost everyone who entered the bar from the street seemed to forget whatever drink they came to order, and stood instead transfixed with the trio’s technical finesse.

“To all those people sitting outside,” declared Caleb De Casper as he took the stage, “fuck you.”

Caleb De Casper

Casper was dressed in an all-black ensemble, from seven-inch platform heels to a widow’s veil about his face. Looking around I noticed that he had in fact cleared the room of those patrons (read: heterosexuals) unprepared for the Elvira/Moriticia Addams moment. Their loss.

De Casper brought his blend of camp, glamour and, tonight, body horror, peeling off gnarly patches of liquid latex skin from his face before his last number. He delivered his poppy glam punk with a sincerity and vigor that subsumed the room, and hopefully also those outside of it.

Caleb De Casper

Stretch Panic showed no sign of losing the energy as they charged into a danceable garage-rock set. A couple near the front swayed together in time to “Vampire love is suckin’ me dry,” possibly attempting to summon a black hole of twee charm. The group’s sound fit the space well, their three voices balanced together and their multiple instruments melded beneath it.

Stretch Panic

The lineup successfully roused one languid Red River evening, and, if there is any justice, kept at least one Hotel Indigo guest from getting enough sleep that night.