A Night Out With UNI & The Urchins

It’s been over three years since UNI and The Urchins last took the stage as a full band. On January 12th, their first night back onstage also christened the release of their album, Simulator. “I never really get too nervous before we perform,” says frontman Jack James, “but before this one I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ shaking.” Counterpart bassist Charlotte Kemp Muhl likens the rapid lead-up and corresponding performance to something between a high school reunion and a talent show—tinged with an aura of indulgent debauchery.

They chose to reintroduce themselves at Bushwick’s House of Yes, a suggestion from guitarist David Strange. “I can’t believe we’ve never been to that place before, because it’s a physical manifestation of our brains,” explains Kemp Muhl. “It’s very Tadanori Yokoo, like ’60s psychedelia, and then punk underground queer scene, S&M vibes. It’s such a cool place, it was really perfect.” The band thinks of themselves more so as an art collective, linking with likeminded performance artists for various songs. For the evening in question, friends Anna Monoxide, ÆON ANDREAS, and more took the stage clad in capital-L looks—for some that meant green body paint, others a cyborg eye and bionic arm.

This unconventional assemblage loaded in around 1 p.m., leaving ample time for sound check—or so they thought. Instead, Urchins and friends were met with a sort of aerial dance class. “We’re loading in all this heavy equipment around people on scarves dancing in the air,” says James. With the sound check cut short, a lot of the performance then emphasized improvisation. “As we were playing, that was the first time we were seeing what [the performers] were actually going to do. I was looking out and seeing them throw confetti and dancing in cages,” Kemp Muhl reflects. “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s really cool. I didn’t know they were going to do that.'”

This sense of off-the-cuff spontaneity characterized their costume choices, as well. After striking out on Amazon—”our dirty little secret, is just going to the dark corners of the web to find really cheap stuff,” Kemp Muhl says”—they arrived at designer and friend CHRISHABANA’s studio the night prior to the show. Luckily, he knows their taste (and designs in a compatible manner). Kemp Muhl settled on a cut-away leather catsuit, James an ultra spiky, dripping crimson top. But that’s the punk spirit they’ve come to be known for. And in true punk fashion, the show ended with a bang, or a smack rather, as Kemp Muhl met James’ attempt for a post show hug with an (accidental) knock in the head from her bass. Click through the below images to discover more about the band’s satisfyingly chaotic evening.

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