Bruise Cruise 2012, Day One: Thee Oh Sees and Dirtbombs Destroy the Xanadu Lounge

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Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer.
See the full 68-photo Bruise Cruise 2012 slideshow.

After only 243 minutes aboard the Carnival Imagination, it had already been a busy day, chockablock with bruisin', cruisin', and boozin', famous guy sightings, and doing megahits off the pina colada bong while almost tumbling overboard. And the boat hadn't even left the Port of Miami.

Within a half-hour, though, we were bobbing across the Atlantic Ocean toward the Bahamas. The Xanadu Lounge was packed. The guitars were buzzing. The assembled Bruisers were stuffed with buffet food.

And it was finally time for the Bruise Cruise's official opening ceremonies with The Dirtbombs and Thee Oh Sees.

Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

But how exactly do you kick off the festivities on a rock 'n' roll ship?

Well, there weren't any gunshots. And no one lit a fire. But a couple of mojitos got smashed as a certain familiarly drunk gentleman (tatted, shirtless, hirsute) wandered the darkness near the bar, intermittently yelling, "Party!," and The Dirtbombs replied by ripping into oh-so-appropriate rager anthem, "Start the Party."

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Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

Led by ex-Gories guy Mick Collins with Ko Melina on axe and a three-headed dudesome on double drums and bass, The Bombs dropped a quick and dirty set of Detroit rock, just throbbing with fuckable menace.There were odes to seizing the moment ("Get It While You Can"), a "song," Collins said, "about home" ("Motor City Baby"), and fuzztone freakouts on topics such as chains of love, screaming sirens, and earthquake hearts.

All in all, the Dirtbombs destroyed the Xanadu Lounge. The stage was ringed with empty mai tais, abandoned margaritas, and beer bottles. Used towels were heaped into wet piles. And the floor was slick and sticky and flecked with shards of broken glass.

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Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

After a double dose of Budweiser, the bruisin' and cruisin' continued with some pre-dinner riffage by Cali rock crew Thee Oh Sees.

Ripping through cuts like "Meat Step Lively" and "Castiatic Tackle," frontdude John Dwyer wielded his guitar as if it were a weapon designed for fucking ears while seething and sneering and screeching with a smile, thrusting a stiff "Fuck You" finger into front-row faces, and attacking the microphone like a snake swallowing a rat.

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Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

But even though Dwyer seems like a psychopathic surfer with an insatiable hunger for noisy violence, he's actually a supernice dude.

That's called an "onstage persona." And his bandmates have all got equally distinct vibes: keyboard goddess Brigid Dawson's the cool music teacher who drinks too much tea and reads Kurt Vonnegut under her desk; guitar guy Petey Dammit could be a professional suspenders model with a dark past; and drummer dude Mike Shoun looks like a cool bicyclist who's got an awesome record collection while fellow skin slapper Lars Finberg is probably the bookish party animal with a closet full of thrifted Le Sport tank tops.

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Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

Nice or not, though, Thee Oh Sees destroyed the Xanadu Lounge too.

The assembled mob was exhausted and soaked in its own sweat. The walls were lightly spattered with human spit. The floor was slicker and stickier and flecked with another batch of broken glass.

The Bruise Cruise had fucking begun.

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