Andrew Yonki on guitar, Stefanie Zaenker on drums/vocals and Francis Beringer on bass/lead vocals is Caustic Casanova, the heavy rock group from DC. Their passion for savage riffs and the pleasure they take in their craft was palpable throughout the packed bar venue, O’Briens in Allston, MA.
Beringer’s vocals, reminding me of Queens of the Stone Age, were forcefully spot-on as they resonated throughout the crowd and out onto a rainy Harvard Avenue. Zaenker’s percussion was crushing. She hammered out drum fills in response to Yonki’s oscillating riffs with loud authority which crowned the beautiful aural assault unleashed by CC. Anyone who’s witnessed Caustic firsthand has adamantly attested to how loud their music is, and CC certainly did not disappoint on this fall evening. Despite being on the tail end of a massive, 10-week, 56-show tour celebrating the release of Breaks, the trio had plenty of energy left to deliver a shocking, visceral performance.
Luckily, this show granted me the opportunity to witness one of my favorites from CC, “Quezalteca Deathswitch Blues.” The studio version is an interesting, heavy piece. A pleasant surprise, I somehow enjoyed the live version even more than the studio version. The sound at O’Briens was up to the task of cleanly blasting Beringer’s deafening, aggressive playing. Zaenker’s intense, echoing cry added an additional flavor to the already diverse medley of sounds. Three songs in, they played “Show Some Shame,” an excellent taste of Zaenker’s voice as she howls “We’re doomed, we are doomed!!.”
Another facet of the show that made their set so captivating is that CC’s music firmly beckons you to head bang, pretty much from start to finish. The band used the variety of music in their wheelhouse to their advantage, giving the crowd songs that they didn’t even know they’d craved. Their last song of the night was a heavy, psychedelic track that was reminiscent of The Black Angels.
The intimate familiarity the three have with each other’s playing style has yielded a certain precision to their writing. Like an engineer tinkering with various parts of a machine, this meticulous precision was clear in their finished product. CC has a foot planted in several different genres. Variety and intricacy form a driving theme behind the group’s music; a big strength of CC is that they switch things up just enough to keep their tracks exciting and surprising without sounding manic or disjointed.
Having formed in 2005, the band has nearly broken up on two occasions, once after losing their original guitarist (which produced the serendipitous addition of Andrew Yonki) and again following a severe car accident involving Stefanie Zaenker. Like the phoenix that adorns the cover of their newest album, Breaks, Zaenker and Caustic Casanova have arisen stronger and louder than ever.