My best friend, Shauna loves Night Lizard. She rarely misses their shows and I’m usually along for the fun. So when Brandon Hill contacted me about their next show in Salem this Saturday, I knew I had better write about them. I had actually already found out about the show online; Brandon makes fantastic show posters – a lost art. I’m always excited to see what he comes up with, and this one’s no exception. He said he thinks he actually enjoys making the show posters more than the actual shows.
Like I said, I’ve been to several Night Lizard shows, but had never really had a conversation with Brandon Hill or Steve Lough (pronounced “Low”) – the two that make up this synth/pop duo. I was interested in meeting them and learning their story. They’ve both lived in Salem since they were very young and have been doing the music thing for well over 10 years. They were active all through the early 2000s when I was at home with kids and not in the scene.
They told me about Salem’s string of house venues: The Summer Street House, The Sausage Factory, Burial Grounds and Wisp House, all now defunct. (Psst Salem…we need another house venue, stat!) In fact, it was at Wisp House where Night Lizard was hatched. It was the Summer of 2015 and it was at a birthday party for Preston that Brandon, Steve, and former member Nathan Simmons got together as a joke band for the celebration.The joke went over pretty well, because they brought the house down. And they still pack them in. Every Night Lizard show I’ve been to has been incredibly well attended. In fact, two shows I couldn’t even get in – they had already hit capacity by the time I showed up. Their sexy-synth dance tunes have become a Salem favorite, for sure.
Even after their hometown successes, I was surprised to learn that Brandon, like most other musicians I know, is racked with self-doubt and perfectionism. He’s such a perfectionist, that after they recorded their first album, even after they had sold a bunch at shows, he listened to it and decided he hated it. He refused to sell anymore and has a pile of CDs at home. He even refused to give me one! But he agreed to give me some of his show posters – YAS!
Brandon and Steve have both been in a bunch of Salem bands through the years. Brandon has a Black Flag tribute band that still performs occasionally called “Black Drag,” with Adam Jennings, Cole DeJong, and Matt Williams. And yes, they perform in drag. He’s also in Nun Hunter with Jennings, DeJong and Doug Hoffman of The Space and City of Pieces fame.
Steve has a side project called “Chimes,” and I have to admit I’m fascinated by it. He plays ambient synth loops while he walks through an assortment of wind chimes he sets up on stage. I am actively trying to get him to revive this project and soon. Keep an eye out. I’ll definitely let you know when that comes around.
You’ll be able to see Night Lizard this Saturday, May 13th, at Kraftworks Taphouse. They’ll be joined by three other synth-heavy bands from Portland – Vacant Stares, Atomic Candles and Sex Park. These bands are more on the post-punk, goth end of the spectrum, so when Night Lizard takes the stage, there will be dancing. DJ Main Man (Josh Blanchard) will be providing some between set selection. I suggest getting there early – like I said, Salem comes out for Night Lizard shows. Come see why. The show is five dollars because artists deserve to be paid.