As a Seattle-area native, a feminist, and an a pop-punk fan, its no surprise that Tacocat is one of my favorite bands. Formed in Seattle in 2007 of singer Emily Nokes, guitarist Eric Randall, drummer Lelah Maupin, and bassist Bree McKenna, Tacocat is an indie pop-punk quartet known for their vibrant aesthetic and bubbly, humorous, feminism-infused songwriting. I unfortunately never got to see Tacocat live when I lived in Seattle, so when I discovered they were touring to Tucson I jumped at the chance to finally watch them perform. I was especially excited to see them at 191 Toole, a venue whose artsy, intimate, DIY atmosphere is a perfect fit for such a band.
I made sure to position myself right next to the stage for an optimal viewing and photo-taking angel, and eagerly waited for the band to appear. When they walked out to greet the crowd, it felt like a tiny bit of my hometown had come down to Tucson. They were dressed in Tacocat’s iconic colorful style, some noteworthy components being Randall’s blue Bernie 2020 shirt and McKenna’s rainbow rhinestone encrusted bass.
Bassist Bree McKenna and her sparkling bass
Everyone in the band had an incredible stage presence, particularly Nokes, who embellished her performance with funky dance moves and theatrical tambourine playing, and Maupin, who swished her lilac locks to and fro with every drum beat. I tend to be drawn to bands that have a unique visual style, and Tacocat is certainly no exception.
Singer Emily Nokes with her tambourine tucked beneath her arm
But this band certainly does not lack the substance to back up their style; their songs are catchy and creative, featuring poppy melodies and chord progressions wrapped in grittier punk production. Their set was full of hits such as “Hologram”, “I Hate the Weekend”, “The Crimson Wave”, and my personal favorite, “Dana Katherine Scully” (an ode to Agent Scully of the X-files), songs ranging from introspective to lighthearted and funny. Their live sound was excellent, just as fuzzy, loud, and lovable as their records. My one complaint was that the vocal mic was unusually quiet, but that is more the fault of the sound engineers than the band, and did not stop Nokes from delivering a powerful performance.
Tacocat is one of those rare bands that manages to have undeniable artistic integrity and thought provoking songs while still being nothing but a good time and a positive influence. Sure, they can be cynical, lamenting issues like sexism and the horrors of underpaid service jobs, but they balance weightier topics with optimism and vibrancy that many bands in the pop punk realm lack. As much as I love pop punk, much of the genre is saturated with bands who just seem to be eternally wallowing in ex-girlfriend induced misery. In this sea of angst, Tacocat’s creative, intelligent, and upbeat approach to a diverse variety of topics int heir songwriting is a breath of fresh air. To me, their music and their live show seems to hold the message that though life can be a drag, there is color and beauty in it, and if we put our minds to it we have the power to make the world a better place. This was evident to me at the Tucson show as their joyful, energetic aura swept over the crowd of Arizona punks moshing with grins on their faces. Standing in that crowd watching this band I felt nothing but love and positivity. I highly recommend catching a Tacocat show if you have the chance, you are guaranteed to have an awesome night.