A bucket of cheese puffs intended for public consumption lies at the front of the Der Rathskeller stage as a decrepit, 50-something rock stereotype wails away (with surprising virtuosity) on his Fender guitar during sound-check. A gorgeous blonde woman in a Betty Draper summer dress puts her hair into pigtails and oils her tuba (literally). The drummer dons a lion mask while their two (2) bass players stare at the crowd. The front man steps out of a Richard Linklater film up to the mic, and declares this pathetically beautiful pastiche of Madison natives, “Cribshitter.” Two friends and I, all conservatory-trained musicians, share a pitcher of Spotted Cow, constantly questioning whether or not this spectacle is actually taking place as wave after wave of genius musical shit washes over us, leaving us a giggling puddle of tears.
Their first album, Cry a Little Rainbow, the epitome of the “twang poop” genre, is equal parts Uncle Tupelo, Pixies, Tenacious D and Weird Al Yankovic (with a few quotations from Beatles tunes). On a 30-song record, it can be hard to maintain any sort of album identity, but they don’t seem to care; an album is nothing but a place to put mp3’s they accidentally recorded. Musically, it’s an eclectic splattering of sunny pop tunes, with occasional punk explosions, electronic beats, accompanied by a significant sprinkling of tuba and glockenspiel. Lyrically, it’s a shining testament to the immature glory of childish innocence with a heartbreaking meditation on the realities that complicate it, all without an ounce of pretense; a distinctly Madison, WI mindset.
It’s easy to sneer at Cribshitter’s sophomoric, musical humor; JB and KG have the market cornered. While it’s hard to insert meaning into songs like, “I got hotsause in my pussy, [Track 17]” “Hooked on Colonics, [Track 22]” “Hit Derek in the Dick, ” “Let’s Beat on Chad’s Dick, ” “Derek threw a fucking eraser at me, ” or “She charged $25 for a $5 blowjob, ” these songs seem to act as a defense mechanism; protection from the earnest love songs and heartbreak that lie beneath the childish profanity.
A song like, “Jared is different around girls, ” details, in simple terms, the death of a childhood bromance and the confusion that accompanies it. The tune, “I don’t know Jack Shit about Shit, ” bemoans a similar frustration, as a friend attains higher education and leaves you behind (“the more you learn/the less i know”). “What’s on the sandwich?” is a weed-induced love poem to a massive snack, completed by rapturous declaration of culinary ecstasy (“I love my sandwich”). “Will you go with me ” is a tear-jerking account of a love note recipient writing in her own “maybe” box, next to “yes” and “no”. “War Torn Vaginer ” is a ballad for a “county-line cum dumpster” who, truly, just loves and cares too much for her own good.
Cribshitter’s Cry a Little Rainbow is a love note to the real child within us: The immature reprobate at the back of the class, who giggles every time the teacher turns to page 69. The kid who only reads Catcher in the Rye so he can swear during class discussion. The guy who still calls you every other day, asking to hang out (even though you’ve been a huge prick to him since Stephanie noticed your mustache). The girl who doesn’t understand why her boyfriend has to be so mean when she makes a simple mistake. The kid who only wants to run around outside for a while and not deal with structured recreation for a while. The loser who doesn’t understand why everyone has to be so neurotic about everything when life is so shit-piss-fuckingly beautiful.