With a few exceptions, in Cincinnati’s underground Rock circuit of the ’90s, there was a span of time where you basically knew what you were going to get when you went to a show — some variation of scruffy Gen X-ers playing loud guitars. But every now and then, an act would come to town that was blissfully confounding. It wasn’t just “unique” — there was literally nothing else like it.
Emerging from New Orleans, Quintron and Miss Pussycat were an enigma. And they still very much are. To nutshell it — Quintron plays organ, triggers other sounds and sings while Miss Pussycat performs puppet shows. It’s wonderfully strange and compelling and a bit surreal, though even that word doesn’t fully explain the experience. David Lynch himself would probably fall into a paralyzed state of chin-scratching contemplation trying to contextualize one of the duo’s performances.
Getting her artistic start in Oklahoma at a “Christian Puppet Youth Ministry,” Miss Pussycat’s puppetry is storyline-based, playful and fantastically odd. The hand puppets and sets are handmade and colorful, resembling something Pee Wee Herman might play with between takes while filming his Playhouse on the big-boy set.
With Miss Pussycat often singing backup and playing maracas, Quintron coaxes music out of his huge organ set up, which is built into the front of an old car. Quintron is an inventive tinkerer, so the organ is like a Hammond B3 that has been completely rewired and tricked out with an array of analog electronic quirks. The music has been called “Psychedelic Soul” and “Swamp Tech” (also the name of the duo’s 2005 album, which was paired with Miss Pussycat’s puppet film, The Electric Swamp).
Describing the act on a surface level makes it seem like Quintron and Miss Pussycat are some sort of art project meant to be stared at and deeply considered, but the duo’s performances are very much Rock & Roll shows — energetic, explosive and life-affirming testaments to the power of performance and DIY ingenuity, however unconventional.
The pair’s latest projects include a book (written by Quintron and illustrated by Miss Pussycat) about traveling through Europe and a music video for their cover of Roky Erickson’s “Creature with the Atom Brain,” which is featured on the compilation Dr. Demento Covered in Punk.
Quintron, who has released over a dozen albums since 1994, teamed up with Third Man Records last year to showcase his Weather Warlock, a large analog synth that is controlled by the weather. Quintron’s Weather Warlock performance during the 2017 eclipse at the Third Man storefront in Nashville was recently issued by the label on vinyl (Third Man also released a live set from Quintron and Miss Pussycat). Quintron and Weather Warlock are touring with Stoner/Doom Metal icons Sleep later this year; that tour comes to Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre on Dec. 10.
Quintron and Miss Pussycat's show this weekend at Northside's Urban Artifact has been canceled, but if you're up for an adventure, other dates in the region are still on. Click here for more info about the Quintron and Miss Pussycat's show at State Street Pub in Indianapolis on Monday, Sept. 10.