Subscribe to SoundAffects
email list:

Follow SoundAffects1 on Twitter



Concert Reviews: Sugarcult

Tower Records, Birmingham, MI
September 26, 2002
by: Matt Boltz

The line of more than 100 fans waiting to enter Tower Records in Birmingham, MI for Sugarcult's in-store performance on September 26 drew a lot of attention from townspeople walking and driving near the store. Several passersby, including one man who stopped his car in the middle of the road, asked members of the crowd what was going on and who was playing. It didn't matter that none of the onlookers seemed to recognize the name Sugarcult--- by the time the doors opened and the quartet from Santa Barbara, CA took the stage, the crowd had grown to nearly 200 people who were excited to hear Sugarcult's infectious blend of punk, pop, and fun.

photo of Sugarcult's performance at Tower Records Birmingham Michigan copyright Janet Reid

Sugarcult is a band that truly enjoys their fans and enjoys reciprocating the energy and enthusiasm the fans bring to the show. This performance was no exception, as there were speakers swaying throughout the 12-song set, a mosh pit, and even a few crowd surfers. Between the songs, which included covers of Elvis Costello's No Action and the Ramones classic I Wanna Be Sedated, the band members displayed their senses of humor, which range from dry to witty to sarcastic to goofy. Guitarist Marko 72 took advantage of the show being located on the sales floor of a large record store and held up CDs by Christina Aguilera and Elvis Costello. After No Action was introduced as a Costello cover, Marko added, "You guys should get this CD--- it's better than ours!" Guitarist Marko 72 checks out the store's selection while Pagnotta talks to the crowd. copyright Janet ReidMidway through the show, lead singer and guitarist Tim Pagnotta used an audience member's camera to capture the crowd flashing the metal sign. Later in the set, Pagnotta borrowed a fan's video camera and taped the crowd saying "hi" to her before tossing the camera back. The crowd included many young people, some of whose parents stayed for the show. At one point between songs, Pagnotta looked up to where some parents were standing and remarked, "My mom is here," prompting the audience to look in the direction where Pagnotta was looking. He soon let the crowd off the hook by adding, "Maybe not, but somebody's mom is here!" The kids spent most of the show jumping and moshing, and early in the show Sugarcult's bassist, Airin, noted, "We'll break this floor too," in reference to the band's March 2002 performance at nearby St. Andrew's Hall, which was postponed due to the instability of that venue's floor. The Tower Records floor didn't break, but there were a couple of minor technical problems, including a problem with Ben Davis's drums early in the set and a problem with Pagnotta's microphone during the current single, Pretty Girl (The Way). The latter problem was eagerly solved by the crowd, who loudly and accurately finished singing the song for Pagnotta while his microphone wasn't working.

photo copyright Janet ReidThis show was a great example of how a performance can be a lot of fun forboth the crowd and the band without taking away from the music. The music sounded great and seemed as if it could have been coming from a dark, intimate club built to accommodate live music rather than the lower floor of a brightly lit record store. In addition to the two cover tunes, the set featured a mix of songs from the albums Wrap Me Up In Plastic and Start Static, to which the crowd responded enthusiastically. Pagnotta took advantage of the crowd's interaction and invited children to the front of the stage for the finale, I Wanna Be Sedated, including a lucky 11-year-old who got to hear the song while sitting on Pagnotta's shoulders.

Sugarcult demonstrated that they have a strong following in the Detroit area based on the number of enthusiastic fans at this weeknight performance. After giving the fans a fun set that was full of music and humor, the band showed their appreciation by sticking around to sign autographs for everyone who wanted one and by making their new DVD, Action, available to fans for a special sale price before it was officially released. Visit Sugarcult's website at to find out when they're bringing their unique blend of upbeat, catchy songs and witty humor to a venue near you.

Go here to view more pictures from this show