The Cooler, New York City • October 1, 1999
Veterans of disorder may apply to Royal Trux, but Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty seemed at-ease, well-adjusted, charming, focused and relatively healthy performing before a packed Cooler in NYC. Spillout into the bar was inevitable, where thankfully, the somewhat muddy sound mix in the main room was given space to dissipate, and so the bass/percussion-heavy rock songs were revived by clearer fuzzy guitar and the dual vocal stylings of Jennifer and Neil.
Opening with the two and three-minute songs that make up much of their latest Drag City release, Royal Trux kept rocking with minimal chatter, maximum time spent playing. “Waterpark” could have been louder, sure, but the tribute to splashing around seemed a fitting opener as summer fades. “Witch’s Tit” features the penultimate Trux riff, “The Exception” was likewise slight of guitar, and “Yo Se!” was mantric. Do they make Spanish language typewriters? I know.
With their ever-changing line-ups, Ken Nasta’s presence was surprising, but then his hack status must have been a farce, as he aptly handled percussive duties. Cowbell is good. An unknown (to me) and intuitive bassist had that Jefferson Airplane look and plenty of solid bottom.
The Royal Trux discography stretches far back, but the Sweet Sixteen cut “Morphic Resident” was one of the older cuts. Has “Edge of the Ape Oven” been performed in this decade? When Neil took over the near-total improv guitar lead in “Blue is the Frequency,” his chops deserved honor, and his choice to play whatever rang true. Watching a smiling Jennifer nod in time with the groove, all over and far out, confirmed just how fully linked, functional and necessary Royal Trux is to modern music.