We arrived at Grimey’s Saturday afternoon to find ourselves completely surrounded by rugrats. Ocelots are apparently popular amongst the toddler set, because close to a dozen earplugged mini-hipsters—we call them yipsters—were milling about, eating the complimentary cookies and touching the records with their filthy little hands. Things got started a bit late, but the spare 15 minutes gave us a chance to check out Grimey’s brand new Amoeba-esque preview station, complete with a touch-screen and upcoming performance schedule.
Ocelots opened with “The Truth About Sailing,” the first track off their new release The Ghost and the Cellar Have Let Us Down, a melodically mature piece of tempo-shifting, thoughtful punk. They experienced some initial technical difficulties—an ornery kick pedal and a bit of PA feedback foremost amongst them—but as the set wore on, the sound turned out to be pretty solid and not particularly deafening despite Grimey’s limited space.
Ocelots present the sort of unassuming aesthetic—made up of introspective lyrics, smart progressions, punkish, sloppy riffs and occasional vocal swapping—that brings to mind the underappreciated indie-rock acts of yesteryear like Silkworm and Seam. Masters of stage-banter, however, they are not. Nevertheless, Ocelots’ slightly awkward segues and stretches of silence coupled with their cornucopia of free cookies made for a pretty charming presence, and their performance, though not utterly airtight, was just raw enough. Although most three-pieces struggle to fill space, Ocelots’ dynamic works, and a fourth member would almost certainly distract from their straightforward, minimalist style of songwriting.
After a relatively brief set (less than half an hour of material seems a bit modest for a record release show, though they played most of the album), Ocelots called it an evening. We then spent a few minutes wandering about the moderate crowd, perusing the new releases and snagging another three handfuls of cookies before taking off with Ocelots’ “Fight a Tiger” stuck in our heads.