Culture Abuse and Gouge Away played the Cambridge Elks – 10/10

San Francisco’s Culture Abuse and Florida’s Gouge Away teamed up for a fall tour that rolled through Cambridge last week with locals Bittermelon. 

Both Culture Abuse and Gouge Away have a standout 2018 record apiece to their credit – in Bay Dream and Burnt Sugar, respectively – so it was no surprise to find the Elks’ upstairs room jammed to capacity last Wednesday. Factoring in a bit of unseasonably warm weather, things took a decidedly sweaty and beer-soaked turn by the time Culture Abuse took to the floor. The California quintet’s buoyantly scuzzy power-pop might not sound primed to send a crowd into a total frenzy on record, but the band’s live shows are an entirely different story – one involving way more balloons and crowdsurfing. Things were moderately less insane for Fort Lauderdale’s Gouge Away, but vocalist Christina Michelle and the band still commanded with a harder-edged set blurring the lines of (post-)hardcore and noise rock. The melodic melancholy of openers Bittermelon rounded out the bill rather nicely.

Check out photos of all three sets below.