All right, so first things first: remember that whole "bath salts" thing that got the whole country whipped up into a paranoid fever dream a couple of years back? Me neither.
OK, that's not true.
The fact is that I remember it fondly. Misguided souls, desperate to get out of their heads for a brief while, turned to ingesting mysterious powdery substances with a deserved reputation for pretty much instantaneously turning said users into delirious, violent, hallucination-plagued, unstoppable, cannibalistic flesh eaters.
I mean, honestly, what's not to like?
Well, I guess pretty much every single bit of it - but somehow that did not stop a surprisingly large number of people from standing in line and hoping they were tall enough to get on that particularly hellish ride. Now that the all-consuming media frenzy about that specific threat has subsided, I'm absolutely certain there are as many if not more willing participants standing in line for the same experience right now.
Just to clarify: the horrific, easily abused (hell, only abused!) synthetic drug marketed under the street name "bath salts" has nothing to do with real bath salts. You know, the soothing, aromatic minerals which are designed to be added to one's bath for better relaxation and to minimize muscle fatigue? That was just a marketing gimmick, used to sneak packages of the similar-looking psychotropic contraband past customs and DEA agents.
So don't avoid putting actual bath salts in your bath (as rumor has it many now do), and don't irresponsibly blame the legitimate bath salts industry for the sins of some unscrupulous dope distributors. That's just foolish and counterproductive.
The Florida-based alt.rock band The Bath Salt Zombies (not to be confused with the British-based alt-rock band of the exact same name) must certainly hope those gory visions of chewed-off faces and stripped-naked highway nutters are still fresh enough in the public's mind to provide some free and easy PR boost to their low-budget approach to the big time. It's a catchy name, and one that conveys very little about the group using it - save for an assumed sense of quirk and perhaps a spooky vibe.
Both of those assumptions would be accurate, as this acoustic-ish quartet of guitar, drums, banjo and bass (sometimes upright, sometimes electrified), which may or may not have recently added a violinist to its lineup, seems to revel in exuding a slightly (and I do mean slightly) creepy, Gothic horror feel through their getups (think chimney sweeper hats, Victorian-era facial hair and dusty, undertaker-ish outfits) and the subject matter of some, but not all, of their songs.
Formed in what many think of as the Southernmost part of New Jersey, the greater Daytona Beach area, in the fall of 2012, The Bath Salt Zombies have become a regular attraction at a number of bars, pubs and music clubs throughout their home state of Florida and increasingly, the Southeastern region. They cite such seemingly disparate acts as KISS, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys, Primus, Clutch, Slayer, The Gun Club and Keller Williams as key musical influences; yet, interestingly enough, they don't mention the now-defunct cult group The Swamp Zombies, of which their sound and approach are at times reminiscent.
If you're having a hard time imagining what a mostly acoustic group that occasionally wears ghoulish makeup and avowedly finds inspiration in such a mixed bag of Celtic-punk, speed metal, classic rock and neo-hippie jam acts could possibly sound like, don't fret.
The band members themselves have conveniently described their group's style as "hell-billy cabaret," "pirate/carnival fusion," "grunge-grass" and "sideshow funk." Which is to say that their original material is somewhat overly melodramatic, rooted in the chord changes and subject matter of sea shanties and old-timey traveling freak shows and circuses, and usually delivered in a sort of boisterous, faux Anglican accent.
Their live gigs purportedly find the group leaning into other stylistic bags, such as reggae and rockabilly, and have been known to include a number of covers, such as tunes by Bill Withers, Sublime, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, Elvis, The Dead and Creedence Clearwater Revival. This eclectic approach to providing a little something for most has no doubt served them well on the outdoor festival circuit (to date they've performed at such notable Florida gatherings as the Orange Blossom Jamboree, the Bamboo Jamboo and Tennessee's Muddy Roots Fest.)
The Bath Salt Zombies played more than 100 gigs in 2013 alone, and in February 2014, released their first independent record, an EP-length CD titled "Hairy Women & Farm Animals." That EP can be streamed for free or purchased via download at the group's BandCamp page. This will be their second appearance at The Jinx on Congress Street.
Opening this Savannah show will be locally based Americana singer-songwriter A.M. Rodriguez, an increasingly familiar face on the local ultra-indie roots-music scene who's spent time in the esteemed, songwriter-centric music town of Austin, Texas. Rodriguez's pinched and grizzled vocal delivery and barren, stripped-down and weathered take on acoustic guitar-based folk blues-tinged C&W would seem a perfect match for this venue and a decent match for this headliner.
There's no firmly scheduled start time for the gig (as is the case for many shows at the Jinx), but it will begin no earlier than 10 p.m.