I don’t know what happened to me as a kid but I’m only satisfied at shows if I’m deaf and sweaty by the end of it—and if the band resembles some sort of hellish mixture of Looney Toons and The Exorcist. That last part I didn’t know until I saw Nobunny at Diviera Drive after a long, eight-year wait. And it was the fucked up, carrot-filled rampaged I had always dreamed it would be.
First off, I have to get it out of the way: They lit their fucking drums on fire. Maybe I’m a sucker for a gimmick, maybe I haven’t seen enough punk shows yet. I don’t care. In the midst of one of their many aggressive mixes of 60s pop jams and gutter punk, one of the drummer’s cymbals suddenly caught fire and all my dreams came true. The rest of the band, then, stood around the fire and continued playing, like a demonic ritual straight out of Happy Tree Friends. Although this moment lasted a few seconds at most, it was a jaw-dropping display of Nobunny’s knack for theatricality and hypnotizing mix of horror and their cartoonish mythology.
But they don’t have to light shit on fire to prove anything. From their costume pieces to stage decor, Nobunny commits to their horrific landscape on stage just as hard as they do with their artwork. All their microphones were duct taped together with a bushel of carrot, which Champlin snacked on and threw into the audience throughout the show. And to celebrate Easter, he chucked a dozen plastic Easter eggs full of glitter into the lights hanging over the audience. Like the fire drums, there’s no real method to all the madness except to pay homage to madness itself.
Ripping through their discography like an automatic rifle, the four-piece, bubblegum punk monstrosity whipped the crowd into a hurricane. Pushing and shoving is nothing new, but this felt different. A lot of mosh pits often come off like whiny kids getting out their aggression with their first world problems. This crowd couldn’t contain their excitement and unleashed it like a drunken celebration. Instead of punching and shoving, they just wanted to dance and shout with their favorite man-rabbit. In fact, half the joy I felt from the show may have come from the crowd’s own frenzied emotion.
Nobunny isn’t a band you turn to for mind-blowing musical prowess or ground-breaking genre bending. But what has kept Champlin’s project hopping away for nearly two decades is his dedication to his fucked up but oddly charming lore. What’s not to love about a hairy man in a black jacket, black underwear, and a gross bunny mask wailing on stage with the nasal voice of Bugs Bunny? As well, their fuzzy tunes are endlessly catchy and scream-singable a la Chuck Berry produced by a chainsaw. Concepts like these are perfect fodder for live perfection and I haven’t been that happy on Easter since I last stuffed my throat with a pack of discount Peeps from the CVS sale section.