Predictably unpredictable

The Critters play the Battery Park Stage Saturday from 4-5:30 p.m. Photo by Max Cooper

If you're wondering who The Critters are, you're probably not from around here.

The psych-pop quartet has seen a meteoric rise in WNC, releasing its debut EP, performing at last year's Bele Chere festival, filming a session for Moog's AHA AVL series and landing in the Xpress' Best of WNC readers' poll, all in the past year. Not to mention cementing a reputation as Asheville's most raucous and unpredictable rock band.

But now that all the accolades are out of the way, let's get to the good stuff.

It's hard to nail down where the Critters fall on the broad spectrum of rock 'n' roll, but suffice it to say that, wherever it is, they fall hard. From drummer Josh Martier's gritty, unrelenting garage beat to singer/guitarist Harry Harrison's sunny retro-psychedelia, the Critters are loud, fast and aggressive. And catchy as hell.

With four contributing songwriters (guitarist Jesse Meyers and bassist Tom Peters also lend offerings), there's a lot to take in – punk, early rock 'n' roll, '60s psychedelia, blues and modern indie-pop — but miraculously, there's nothing disjointed or piecemeal about the Critters’ sound. In fact, it's just the opposite: One listen and you'll never mistake the Critters again.

"
I think that's the fun part about it, kind of the contradictory elements within the band," Peters told Xpress in March. "There is kind of a common thread going through everything. Some songs might be a little grittier and some songs a lot poppier, but then with everyone contributing there is that push and pull in a couple of directions."

Live, the band's infectious energy spreads with the devastating power of a Western wildfire. It's a physical experience for all involved, due both to the irresistible momentum of the performance and the chest-caving ferocity with which the Critters perform. Harrison in particular is known for his onstage antics, flailing around stage like a wet noodle having a seizure and howling like a wild animal. Past appearances have seen band members perform in skintight onesies, off-the-wall costumes and even in the nude (well, once anyway). Basically, it's the most predictably unpredictable show in town.

"I think there's a certain raw sort of energy, especially from Harry, that just makes people want to get drunk and have a good time," Martier told Xpress in advance of the band's EP release this spring. "And that kind of revs it up, gets things going."

"I feel like if Harry notices people not having a good time, he goes insane and he's willing to do absolutely anything," adds Peters.

Consider yourself warned: this is not the show for relaxing and daydreaming. It will be loud, and it will be wild. Plus, who knows what your inattention could make Harrison do.

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