Klubtastic follows on from where the legendary Psychobilly club of the 80s, Klub Foot, left off. Run by a crew (sorry, that should of course be 'krew') headed by Russ, frontman of the Death Valley Surfers, Klubtastic's mission is to bring quality Psychobilly bands to the long-suffering clubs and venues of London. This is one such event, and there's a bit of a buzz in the air tonight, a feeling that we're in for something special.
The Guana Batz were one of the original first-wave Psychobilly acts, originally hailing from the nondescript 'burbs of west London. The band was, perhaps, more faithful to the original '50s rockabilly sound and style than some of their more punkish contemporaries, but they played with dynamite energy and won a big following on the 1980s scene. These days, two members of the band live in California, and the obvious logistical problems this creates means we don't see as much of the Guana Batz as we used to. But tonight, they're back on their old stomping ground, and they're ready to stomp up a storm.
First, however, we have two supporting storms. The Lucky Devils come from France, although to look at them you'd think they'd just stepped in from fixin' the pick-up in a farmyard in Tennessee. They're a pretty straightforward band - stand-up bass, semi-acoustic guitar, drum kit - they're obviously not in the business of messing with the classic ingredients. What they do with those classic ingredients is good, however. The guitar has a big, rich, sound, and the singer's voice hollers out strongly. It's powerful stuff, although the band don't move around much on stage and seem a little reluctant to really let go. That's probably due to the early hour and the sparse crowd - the bulk of the audience hasn't shown up yet, and The Lucky Devils have to entertain a handful of early punters and a wide expanse of empty floor. Not really the makings of a party, then, but they whip up as much of a hoedown as the circumstances will allow. Better luck next time.
Some Dogs have a simple manifesto, and this is it: 'Did you realise that country music is simply punk played too slowly?' As it happens, that particular thought had not previously occurred to me - but this should clue you in to what the band does. Quite simply, Some Dogs play country covers, punk style. And not just any old country covers, but only the cheesiest chart-topping country anthems. This band, I have to tell you, is heavily into Kenny Rogers, and they don't care who knows it.
It seems that Some Dogs is the brainchild of vocalist/violinist Big Bird Dog, a veteran of umpteen post-punk bands including Sunglasses After Dark and the Sex Gang Children. Tonight, he maintains a weirdly avuncular presence on stage while his motley assortment of band-mates thrash and gurn around him. The band obviously believe in getting the heckles in first: 'We're not very good,' announces the singer, 'but we're cheap!' And then off they go into the greatest hits set of your worst nightmares: 'Stand By Your Man', 'Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town' - they even play a 100mph version of the theme song from the Dukes Of Hazzard, a musical experience which I assure you will stay with me for many years to come. The audience can't make up its mind whether it's appalled or overjoyed, but there are enough people bopping away down the front to goad the band into further excesses - 'Rhinestone Cowboy', anyone? Some Dogs walk a very unsteady line between madcap genius and sheer idiocy, but I'd raise a glass to 'em any night of the week. Nutters. Nutters, I say!
And then it's time for the main attraction. The Guana Batz take the stage looking fitter than any band with a 20-year history has any right to. Their regular drummer is absent - a broken foot, we're told, means he can't play tonight. ('What's wrong with his arms?' comes a shout from the audience). So, Rick Stojack from the Barnyard Ballers - a band about whom I know nothing except they keep getting namechecks in Varla magazine - sits in, having apparently learned the entire Guana Batz songbook in a week. They pitch straight in to the greatest hits, and the energy doesn't let up for the entire set. 'Radio Sweetheart', 'Electraglide In Blue', 'Pile Driver Boogie' - all the songs the audience want to hear are served up as fresh as if they were recorded yesterday. Paradoxically, given the band's energy and enthusiasm, vocalist Pip Hancox makes many joking references to the alleged age and decrepitude of both the band and the fans. 'It's just so weird, seeing Psychobillies with grey hair,' he says, looking out over the audience. Then he turns to Stuart Osbourne, the guitarist: 'And one of 'em's in the band!'
The sheer racket kicked up by the simple bass, guitar, and drums line-up is impressive: a walloping tumble of sound that never lets up. Several hundred boisterous Psychobillies go chicken-dancing crazy in the moshpit, while right at the front a glamourous line-up of Betty Page-style girls sing along to all the words. Since when did glamourous girls start coming to Psychobilly gigs? Back in the 80s, they all wore blue denim dungarees! Eventually, the set steams to a close - the final encore, 'King Rat', is possibly the Guana Batz' all-time classic number, the song they simply *have* to play or the audience would lynch 'em. And then, it's over. The band depart, promising to return soon, the moshers wring the sweat out of their T-shirts, and everyone staggers towards the exit. As the club clears, the staff come out and start sweeping up the gallons of spilt beer and drifts of crushed plastic beakers that now cover the floor. The mess is impressive - always the sign of a good gig. There's no doubt the wrecking crew's been through here tonight.
see all the photos from this concert here
Some Dogs: http://www.somedogs.co.uk
The Lucky Devils: http://www.theluckydevils.fr.st
The Garage: http://www.meanfiddler.com/version1/thegarage/index.asp
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
The Tokyo Rose, VA
~review by Basim [Rhymes w/ Possum]
(photos by Eliza Blessing)
Well call me an “elitist liberal prick” because I would never – even in the most magical and Dio-worthy corners of my imagination, have expected there to be much of an ‘alternative’ scene in Virginia. Between the history of the Virginia Assembly and blatant stares from the old fashioned white-folk in pickup trucks adorned with confederate flags, I expected a trickle of Goths, and mostly Spooky kids at the Bella Morte show in Charlottesville. Of course that would be a hasty assumption, and having lived in this country I’ve come to many realizations about its “character.” Among which is the almost adolescent fickle-ness with which America approaches what foreigners would call “cultural truths.” The way I’ve heard Northerners talk about the South, it’s a wonder why you wouldn’t think ignorance isn't manufactured there - but like most things in these borders, the South’s a big place with a dual nature. Just as there are things to be said about racism, there’s also something to be said for ‘Southern Hospitality.’
If you sit on the curb between ninth and 10th Avenue, on 51st Street in New York, you can actually feel your brain get lighter as the pool of your serotonin evaporates on the grime-glazed walkways and perma-scowl contorted faces of the people that tread on them. Now it could be a side effect of being over worked, or it could be the fact that ninth/tenth Avenue, 51st street is the address of the John J. Barrett & Son Funeral Home, but people from the Upper East coast are always really stressed! In contrast, Virginia is Narnia! It’s like I stepped inside a wardrobe and was warped into an enchanting land of mullets, pickup trucks, and an all-encompassing coal charred sense of backyard bar-b-que goodness. I tugged on my friends’ sleeves when I got back home, trying my best to convince them that there really are people out there that can make conversations out of nothing. People who’ll be eager to give advice on anything –no matter how mundane- (I got some on cooking and eye drops!), and most of all, people warm enough to invite you over for dinner when they’ve only been talking to you for ten minutes!
From the time I saw them at the Lime Light, what strikes me most about Bella Morte was how approachable they are; you almost have to remind yourself that they’re in a band and you’re supposed to be in awe of them. After the Lime light show, Andy and I talked about everything from older Oi, to Paradise Lost’s second album. He seemed like a fellow fan, and less like the frenzied front man I knew him to be onstage. After spending sometime in Virginia, the riddle’s cracked and the source for their warmth has surfaced: People down there are humbler about what they accomplish, and if anyone represents humbleness in my eyes it’s Andy Deane and Gopal Metro …well, after Martin Luther and Mother Teresa, of course!
As soon as you make your way downstairs from the Sushi bar “Tokyo Rose”, you’ll enter a room that couldn’t be more than half a Denny’s in size, filled to the brim in Mohawk-ed boys and zombified Rose McGowan look-a-likes. And to top it off, they all spoke with Southern accents! You truly haven’t lived until you hear a Goth Punk from VA tell you that his band plays “Ohld Fehshioned Deyth Rawk” exclusively. It was like Near Dark gone punk. Oh, and the DJs - Let me tell you about these DEE JAYS. Did you know that DJs in Virginia spin Sex Gang Children? I had an eargasm from the very first violin squeal of Sebastian! It was both mentally surreal and carnally satisfying – a sensation that didn’t return until Bella Morte exited stage left after volunteering to put their hearts under our scope through the duration of thirteen songs.
Once I was done hanging out with the Natives I made my way to the DJ booth, and being the overly sociable bastard I am I subjected DJ Xiane to a series of questions about the Charlottesville Goth scene. From what I gathered, not only are the younger fans well-informed about the social impact and musical wealth of artists like Christian Death and Shadow Project, but there’s also a slew of promising bands* emerging out of the wood work. Within an hour, my series of scattered observations and unfocused conversations had already propelled my zest into a pre-show, unfocused dimness – soon I was lumbering about clumsily throughout the venue, and it took a sharp dose of Dr. Deane’s zany green ooze to reanimate my freshly derailed interest in live music that night. From the opening rib-jarring kick ‘n snare pound of Logic, Dr. Deane threw his body into an array of Saturday morning Casper/Scary Harry styled contortions, all in sync to the stop-go lunge ‘n jerk rhythm of the song.
I’ve reached the conclusion that playing live is like meditation for bassist Gopal Metro. Whenever you see him play live, his cheeks are sucked in, his eyes roll back, and with a perpetual pout he seems completely absorbed in the music being played. The rhythm section’s always tight at Morte shows, and Gopal’s bass gallop keeps everything driving, especially during their slower songs where the bass’s low end really helps round out and fill up their other wise limited midrange sound. During ‘The Quiet’, had it not been for the well thought out Bass ‘n Drum part, between Andy’s soothing croon and Tony’s crinkly guitar scrapes I’d have fallen asleep.
This leads me to one of the few problems I had with the bands live performance: why do they insist on playing The Quiet so often? They have an expansive library of funereal dirges, and many would fit smoother with their energetic live show. I think Away, or Silver Crosses are both better equipped as songs to captivate a rowdy audience’s attention. Actually Away could easily become an 80s-esque power ballad, with its gentle sway and tender -almost western- rung out guitar chords, the piece could easily fit in with their larger then life stage show.
This is my third gig watching Tony play, and each time he’s embellished each song differently. With this gig, it was his lush arpegiated guitar improv with which he teased the pittar patter synth opening to ‘Whispers’ that caught us pleasantly off guard. Captain Lemansky stamped his mark on just about each of the songs, but his musicianship really shined through when it came to the shred guitar opening of “An I for an I”. Since Doktor Avalanche’s bass kicks were sparse at best, it was up to Tony to mark the tempo and carry the crowd’s attention– and he succeeded on both counts with flying-colors (why do I sound like an elementary school teacher). Then the verse came in and threw everyone for a loop. Since their latest release, it is obvious that Morte like to experiment by combining arch-types from separate genres, and in “An I for an I” we witnessed that concept being taken to the max. The drums went the way of Portishead while the guitars chugged along like later day Killing Joke. Rhythm is unfortunately the final frontier for most guitarists, and what really impressed me about this one was his ability to keep his playing in the pocket, while adding enough syncopation as to keep the ‘tunes swinging.
After this foray into ‘Death Trip Hop Rivet Metal’, the band began dishing out their crowd-pleasing horror punk material, allowing yours truly to start a huge mosh pit. I always join the pit at Morte gigs, and it used to strike me as odd that I’d run into everyone from metal heads to skins in them. By the time the gig at in VA rolled around however, I’d discovered the root of this diversity. Unlike the UK, where ‘Flag promotions’ can book bands to play to Goth audiences, in the US most ‘alternative’ bands can’t afford to sustain themselves if they only cater to their scene. The key to Bella Morte’s growing popularity lies in their ability to craft songs with both cross genre components and resonance. These songs strike a chord with anyone that’s been ostracized, be it the result of counter culture, race or religion. There’s hardly a reference to anything modern in their lyrics, giving their songs a sense of timelessness. The art has been pushed well past mere melodrama, and each piece focuses on a separate feel (There are Punky upbeat songs, Ghoulish Goth songs, Sappy New Wave). The atmousphere of a concert that showcases all of these varied elements touches EVERYONE. For their Live shows alone, Bella Morte should stand the test of time and continue to enchant outsiders worldwide.
every song was presented in its souped up live version, the band saved
the most drastic metamorphosis for last. They closed with a striking rendition
of Regret, and outshining the crinkly synth was Andy’s vocal part, which
had morphed from the bitter rant found on the CD to a simple, poignant
soliloquy. By speaking the words instead of spitting them, Andy’s role
shifted. Instead of performing the song, he projected himself candidly.
His eyes were glazed half in the resentment held focal to the love/loss
theme of the song, and half in amazement of the crowd which sang along
to every word of the song. The barriers between performer and audience
blurred. Soon it wasn’t us and them… it was all ‘Us.’ It became a ‘wave
your lighter in the air’ kind of fare, and before we knew it, we had to
say good-bye to both Virginia and the band. By the time my cohort Jenn
and I had shut the door to her Saturn, the evening had already fashioned
itself as an anecdote. Something to tease my East Coast Elitist friends
*the bands mentioned were In Tenebris who can be visited here: http://www.disrupted.org/~tenebris/
and Terminal Ready, and you can run into them here:
Oh, and before I forget, Micah played a mean keyboard and even joined us in the pit during the later half of the show. He churned out some neat twin synths with Andy at the end of Relics!
Strummer Tribute Featuring:
Beauty School Dropouts
Joker Five Speed
Sammy Town Jones
@ The Continental,
East Village, New York
~review by Basim (Rhymes w/ Possum)
(photos by "Vanessa Daughter of Satan")
“By a miracle of God …they looked like they believed in what they were doing. They were playing for the thrill of affecting their audience's consciousness, both musically and politically. Rock & roll shouldn't be cute and adorable; it should be violent and anarchic. Based on that, I think they're the greatest rock & roll group around." - Blue Oyster Cult producer Sandy Pearlman’s reaction after witnessing The Clash’s live show.
Since its inception with Alan Freed, Rock ‘n Roll has always been equal parts naïveté and abrasion. With the ‘81 inner city riots as a backdrop and a sound that dabbled in everything from Reggae to Rockabilly, The Clash remain one of the few bands whose body of work can boast having an embittered, often confrontational message while sustaining an upbeat and varied sound to compliment it. Having lived in Tehran, Africa and Turkey by the age of 16(his father was an English diplomat), Joe Strummer nurtured a well-informed opinion of politics, and knew when people were being screwed over. His time alone at London Freemen School afforded him perspective when it came to love, lies and betrayal (he was reported to have called his father a “bastard” for having dropped him off at boarding school). In more then one sense, Joe Strummer was the embodiment of Alan Freed’s Rock ‘n Roll ideals: His past experiences with society and politics left him with no option but rebellion when it came to norms and accepted truths. Youth kindled the embers of his innocence that in turn shined through the lyrics that he wrote.
Few bands achieve the longevity or influence that Joe Strummer and The Clash sustained, and as a testament to his brilliance Tipper, the owner of the legendary Continental, rounded up an all-star cast of NYC’s most beloved rabble rousing punk rockers to get their rocks off at this killer tribute!
From the minute you stumbled into the venue you were greeted by the murmurous haunt of summer Punks. Those who I consider friends know me as someone who prides himself in the art of eaves dropping and butting in. Naturally, it struck me as a little odd when my attempts to untangle one conversation from another yielded nothing but gibberish. The reasons didn’t sink in until I finally decided to take a step back and scope out everyone who’d come out: apparently three fourths of the conversations going on weren’t even in English! The NYC punk scene is splintered and sliced into so many little pieces that it’s a wonder that the venue was packed for the duration of the gig with kids from every corner of Gotham. The warmth that’s exuded from this type of atmosphere was intoxicating. I had this big dopey grin on my face from the time I weaved my way around the masses to get up front until the long train-ride home.
If showcasing the richness of our rock scene was a conscious decision of the organizers, then the tribute was a glaring success. The Japanese American punk community that usually shows up for “JAPUNK” at CBGBs were at the show to see The Spunks. The old school was in full force to catch a glimpse of the Beauty School Dropouts and The Waldos. Glam kids were caught shuffling to the front en masse’ to gawk and banter at the Detox Darlings and Charm School. Until the very last encore of The Bullys, being there was like driving through a ‘Punk Rock Safari’. Me? I was there for the rowdy stuff! I met this kick ass Japanese horror punk kid who had the tallest liberty spikes in the world. In spite of my inability to speak any Japanese, and the fact that he spoke broken English, I’d have to say we had a pretty high spirited “conversation” consisting of the words “Balzac Isolation”, thumbs up, and lots of enthusiastic hell yeas followed by gratuitous metal horns.
I’d be lying through my teeth if I said a band disappointed me that night; they all played their hearts out. It’s be hard not to when the crowds so into it - you can literally feel the audience sucking the very soul out of you like a giant leech when the atmosphere clicks the way it did that Saturday. But no matter how fun it all was there were some real gems, so without further adieu let me use up YOUR time to gush about the bands I loved.
School: Positively spiffy.
Those were the words that came to mind when I first saw Charm School get on stage. The bassist was a poster child for thrift store chic –not to sound a bit ..erm flamboyant. Besides the staple all black and bullet belt (is this something that carried over from playful Punk to militant Black Metal?), he had this ultra bad ass leather vest with cheetah printed faux fur along the edges. The drummer was styling, tucked behind a set of toms and a pair of sunglasses while the dressed down looking guitarist retreated to an edge of the stage. This created a sense of asymmetry to the band that continued to nag at me until I felt my brain melt into pink ooze and drip out of my ear. Now I’ve seen my share of divas, once upon a time we were all 17 year old goth bois sifting through every nook of the web for sexy photos of Siouxsie, but let me tell you – their singer was hot! Sporting a black button down sleeveless vest, tie and hip hugging tight blue jeans with pink dyed in them, this girl seemed ripped out of every sleazy fantasy that looped in my head when I was 14. It’s the way things work: She wears a button down shirt ‘n tie, I’ll wear my skirt ‘n tights.
Some people act and speak most comfortably when watched by an audience. It’s like the theatric equivalent of perfect pitch; some folks just take to the stage naturally. Essentially Charm School is a band full of such people. Each member provided a different element to the stage presence, and it was the outstanding chemistry that made the overall energy of the show skyrocket. The drummer oozed Miami Vice as he played out the ‘ultra slick’ role, and in turn his drum parts were steady and supportive of the pop hooks coming from his stringed counterparts. The Bassist lunged and lurched to keep vibes on stage lively while involving everyone offstage by forcing eye contact between us and his icy stare. It was the performance of Tina Pedersen who really anchored all of their energy into one focal point. She’d alternate between leaning against the silver mic stand and leering down at us, or peering out towards the horizon with wistful eyes. Sometimes she’d hold the mic really snugly between her hands, stare at the floor and bellow into it. No matter how she moved she maintained a demanding presence, and no matter what she sung, it was clear we were receiving commands. We were ordered, subjugated and all too willing. After a song or two it wasn’t clear just who was being objectified.
The Detox Darlings: There’s a certain richness to be heard in rock vocals delivered by someone whose been classically trained. For me, the falsetto whining that’s common in both Punk and Goth comes off as thin, brittle and often irritating. It’s like someone severed a tongue from its body and it continues to flap about on the floor like a dead fish, trying to make an impression using a voice without lungs while a full band causes a racket behind it. It leaves me feeling unfinished and unmoved. What struck me first about Detox Darlings was the relative ease in which the voluptuous Jetset Jenna was able to belt out vocals that were raspy and corrosive while also maintaining a steady vibrato and full sound. As it turns out, she’s got experience with musical theater, and it was obvious that she had a natural penchant for histrionics: during their cover of “Hateful”, she opened her eyes so wide it’s a wonder they didn’t fall out!
I really dig it when a band revolves around the chemistry between two members. Like Siouxsie and Budgie, Jenna and guitarist Spyder were interacting with each other throughout the show. Sometimes one sings fifths or thirds above the other, other times they’re posing for pics together. Their set is a give and take between them, sometimes Jenna moves the mic to her side so she can stare down the crowd without any visual obstruction – thereby becoming the center of attention. During vocal-less parts Jenna tilted her head down and took a step back, letting Spyder snag some spotlight. By switching, their show never got old – each only spent enough time to impress their presence on the audience, which varied things up just enough without feeling unfocused. Their quick-fix feel-good jangly guitar smeared sound added a nice messy edge to the Clash standards they chose to pleasure us with.
Joker Five Speed: There’s something in the smoke filled air, and centuries of soot and decay that settles in New York that must be good for the chi flowing through all of us. Every night before band practice, I have to stifle myself from getting in fights with sneering strangers or smacking prissy pawns of suburbs up side the head. Here in the city there’s always excess energy oozing out of everything, and it’s this concoction of frustration, eagerness and arrogance that births musicians like Joker Five Speed. They opened up with a cover of the bouncy “Pinball Wizard”! While the version by The Who was epic with clean guitar and bubbly bass lines, Joker Five Speed twisted it into something much more sinister sounding… The bubbly bass was replaced by a grinding pick-on-nickel rumble; the clean guitar parts were ditched in favor of an obnoxiously macho testosterone-fueled guitar sound that it's a wonder Ace Freshly wasn't creating it, while strong throaty vocals and loud pounding drums sliced through the wall of sound! It’s easy to detect a hard rock/Kiss influence as the drummer played fills on the toms that were as melodic as the twin guitar melodies.
While their sound was rich, mature and their time was spot-on, the most memorable part of their show had nothing to do with their music. It had everything to do with how much fun they seemed to be having. It was like a throw back to the vibes of Motley Crue, the New York Dolls and the Ramones – these guys were feeding off the rush. They were giddy like the heroin addicts you see shuffling through dark allies looking for a place between the grime in the sewer vents and lit apartment windows to satisfy their need for a fix. There were the gleeful faces of pimply 14-year-olds underneath the rock star ‘poker face’ expression they chose to wear while plunging and strutting about the stage like arena super stars. During the chouruses the bassist and lead guitarist would clamor to share the main mic (Like Axl did with Duff), during lead breaks every band member would lose it and begin flailing and bouncing as if they were playing Ozzfest.
In a sense, they treated us well. They seemed so thankful to be able to play us songs on the stage that they gave us our moneys worth and then some. The musicianship was top notch, their stage presence was captivating and their energy was off the hook. The gig obviously went well for them, and it seemed like they were about to slap each other high fives by the end of it. I wish them the best, and hope to see them blow up into the rock stars they deserve to be. Their song writing skills are also topnotch, as their single “Scars and Stripes” secured a spot on the NY’s Waste and NY’s Best punk compilation. “Scars and Stripes” along with a bunch of other rock anthems are up for download off their official site.
The Spunks: For a time, there were no bands on stage. I figured it was sound issues, but when I looked back at the handy audio tech and mixer duo nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Then all I heard were the rev up sounds of a motor cycle. There wasn’t any one on the stage, but there was someone parting the crowd from the very back of the room. I stood on my tiptoes and tried my best to get a gander, but it was hopeless – there was just too much spiky hair in the way. Above a sea of Mohawks and haze of nicotine, I saw a line of hands holding motor cycle handles. I was half waiting and half dreading to see just what was going on with these hovering handles – it was like a warped version of Jaws! All of a sudden the row behind me began to heave and shove for space, and through the parted crowd emerged three Japanese American blokes wearing huge motor cycle helmets, “riding” their way on stage! Once they made the step onstage, they got in what looked like a “flying V” formation, and stayed there, twisting their wrists to rev up their bikes… Dude, it was a mix of highly entertaining and disturbingly bizarre. Then they “mounted off their rides” so to speak (they actually straddled the air like a real Suzuki dirt bike hehehe), suited up with their respected bass, guitar and drumsticks, and announced in a thick –almost faux Japanese accent “we are the Spunks!”
They threw themselves into the secret agent mischief of “Brand-new Cadillac” and proceeded to deliver one of the most amusing performances I’ve ever seen. If the fan boy-turned musicians of Joker Five Speed were merely enthusiastic, then in comparison the lunatic Spunks urgently need to be exorcised!They literally threw their bodies into the gentle swing of the song, sometimes they’re guitars would swing so violently around their necks that they could catch it in their arm pits! They were wearing the straps down to their knees too. You know how bands pogo? These guys sort of pogo-d, but they’d throw their body weight into their decent, so they’d go up and down rapidly. Kind of like Bunnies on meth. Other bounces, they’d skip forward and backward to the beat, springing off their toes at a rapid pace. It looked like a cross between Capoeira and hardcore mosh pit ‘dance moves’ (you know the hardcore kids that go to the pit to do ‘the gorilla’?!? Freak’n bizarre).
After their first song, the band proudly stepped up to the mic and yelled “Yea! Sex Drink and Ride!” much to the merriment of the cheering crowd. There’s some sort of motif going on with the broken English thing, because in big red letters their website reads “Come see us or curb your shit, damn ass!” Then, before they went into a new song, the bassist began to rub his palms up and down the neck of his axe really fast and screamed “eeeeyyaaaiiii I am cumming too much!!!” Throughout the show, there was this phallic fixation going on: just as soon as the guitarist played the oppenning guitar parts to "Protex Blue" they turned sideways, cradled their guitars on their crotches and began to hump the hollow wooden bodies with impassioned thrusts of fiery amour! They just raped the be-jesus out of their instruments, let me tell you it won’t be long before the poor things take up piano playing and start their own rape and incest hotlines. Boys for Pele, anyone? Anyone whose heard The Clash’s Protex Blue knows that it’s a really short song, and before you know it the music stopped and the guitarist who ditched the rough, broad body of his instrument for the smooth, glowing curves of a bottle o' Heineken.
Then the guitar player did this cool trick; he wrapped his fingers around the tip of his bottle, and with a flick of his thumbs he ‘jizzed’ a wad of alcohol that hit the singer in the face. This continued for a few squirts until the irritated singer decided to begin the next song. All of a sudden they played this completely odd number, while shouting “London’s Burning” and “Meow” at the chorus. I’ve heard my share of Clash, and I know they weren’t playing London’s burning. I emailed them about it, and Hajme explained: “actually, we did our own song called "here goes the black cat" just shouting ‘London’s burning!’ and ‘meow!’” Truly an assortment of individuals full of insight and creativity.
Although it may be hard to believe, the songs the band did perform were preformed well. Even in light of the crazy physical ‘fits’, the bass and drums were in the pocket and the guitars rung out the right chords at the right times. Truly an impressive band and the best live show that night.
The Bullys: Now here’s an outfit that’s widely respected as NYC’s number one new punk band. Everyone from Joey Ramone (who produced their first disc Stomposition) to the editor of Punk Magazine sings their praises. Very much the live band they’ve been up to play shows in Canada, New York, and anywhere within 10 hours driving distance. They even played a show at the beloved Deathrock/Punk rock night, NY Decay (which –by the way- is being reanimated at CBGBs in April)! They were hyped up by so many that it would’ve been impossible for them to follow through. Maybe the spirit of Strummer decided to hang up the halo and help out with the mixing boards, because inspite of the unliklyhood, somehow the band did. They played great Clash covers, but what really gripped me about this band were the numbers they performed when they were allowed an extra set of all Bullys tunes.
At some point during the first song, the singer sang “"I like to pick my nose, and wipe it on my clothes" and I could totally relate (I was pretty weird in Elementary school)! By the time the chorus came, all the hardcore Bullys fans were up front singing along repetitions of “I’m a Boy.” All of a sudden I lost it. I slammed my back into the Japanese horror punk I met, and in turn he muttered an obscenity in Japanese and returned the favor. We shoved and slammed into a group of rowdy Spaniards, who began laughing and cursing in Spanish. Soon we were in a pit, everyone cursing in a different language, and the stench of cigarette was replaced by a mixture of Aqua Net and sweat.
The band was tight, the music was catchy and the songs were built to show case each instrument equally. Some would open with a punk rock ‘walking’ bass line; others would kick off with a blistering drum fill. All of them had brief but biting guitar solos, and they were filled with funny lyrics and melodic hooks. The background singing and shouted choruses were always on key and perfectly timed. It was good, solid punk rock. Not too many diversions and a whole lot of heart. I can’t really think of a better way to end the night.
for the other bands that were fun, but outshined by the ones above:
For Glam check out Beauty School Dropouts at
fun horn section grooving Bass driven ska/punk check out The Bahamas at
spookey dark punk with band members that look like they were reanimated
in a hidden laboratory using the body parts eleven foot homicides/rapists
check out SammyTown Jones at
The Hypertonics are at www.hypertonics.com tho the link doesn’t seem to really work
For driving, simplistic punk rock with HOWLING vocals and a simple bass-guitar-drum arrangement check out The Push at http://www.push-online.com/
That’s it for today kids. Tune in next, same Possum time, same Possum channel!!
Saturday March 29 2003
~review and photos by Uncle Nemesis
The Slimelight, as I've noted before, is not the easiest venue for bands to play. Sure, you get the instant recognition factor: the whole world knows the Slimelight, and the name looks good on any band's tour schedule. Plus, in theory at least, you get to play in front of the regular Slime-crowd - effectively a 'ready made' audience - which can give new bands a welcome boost. The down side is that the club's live music facilities aren't exactly state of the art, and many of the Slime-clubbers are more interested in shakin' their booties to the DJ's selections, rather than paying attention to a live set by a band. It *is* possible for bands to do well at the Slime, but it's a tough gig. Not for the fainthearted, that's for sure.
Tonight, Seattle-based futurepoppers Glis have hauled in for a show, as part of a jaunt they're billing as the 'Glis Mini-Euro Tour 2003'. This takes in the Eurorock festival in Belgium and one other UK gig, in Nottingham. Hmm, three dates. That's about as mini as a tour can get before it stops being a tour! Still, I have to hand it to the band: they're virtually unknown in the UK yet they've still managed to hustle up a couple of gigs, and they're willing to put in the necessary time and effort to play a new territory. I wish UK-based bands had a bit more of this 'Get out there and do it!' attitude - so many of them spend their entire careers bumbling around the UK circuit and never break into any new areas. However, I digress. Glis are on stage. Let's get to the front and check 'em out.
There are three people on the rickety Slimelight stage. An electro-drummer with a very minimal kit is tucked away in the furthest, darkest corner (which is why there are no photos of him here!) Opposite him, there's a bespectacled, earnest-looking keyboard player, and in the middle a hyperactive singer in frighteningly wide trousers. He jumps and jives all over the stage, hardly staying still for an instant. He even keeps moving between the songs, his hand, holding the mic, compulsively waggling to and fro. He's either carried away by the full-on bouncability of the music, or he's whizzing his nuts off. I'm hard pressed to grab a photo of him - he doesn't even keep still for one-fifteenth of a second.
And the music? Well, as it happens, 'full-on bouncability' describes the Glis sound very well. It's fast, custom-built for clubbing, the very model of modern electro-dance. As so frequently in this generic area, the vocals are more or less chanted rather than sung, and StarVox regulars will know that the lack of 'proper singing' in electronic music is one of my pet bugbears. Still, it seems to be a generally accepted style these days, and while I confess I'm a little disappointed that Glis have chosen to follow the genre rulebook here, it probably won't prevent them touching base with their target audience. On one song, the bespectacled keyboard player comes out to take a vocal, while the vocalist goes behind the keyboards (thus allowing me to snatch a photo of him while he's relatively still!) In all honesty, this switch-around doesn't radically alter the overall sound: if I hadn't seen the vocalist change, I wouldn't necessarily know that someone else was on the mic. This, perhaps, illustrates the main drawback with the chanted vocal style - everyone ends up sounding the same!
As often happens in the Slimelight, the crowd thins out during the set as the club kids become bored with the live show and drift off to the downstairs dance floor. Thus it is that the last song is greeted by only a small ripple of applause from the handful of curious souls who've stayed the distance. In fact, it's not clear that the set has ended - everyone stands around waiting for something else. 'Uh, that was our last song,' says the vocalist, belatedly realising he'd better officially sign off, and the small crowd drifts away as the DJ starts up.
Not exactly a blockbuster finale, then, and a show that probably won't go down in Glis history as one of their all-time best. Brave though they were to take on the toughest gig in town, I think this was one of those occasions where the Slimelight got the better of the band. As I wander off in search of coffee, I recall a remark the Glis vocalist made at the start of the band's set: 'Tom Shear of Assemblage 23 told us the London audience is always great!' Ah, yes - but Tom Shear never took on the Slimelight!
see all the photos from this show here
The all-new Slimelight website: http://www.slimelight.net
by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to