just how he wants it, but otherwise clean cut, competent musicians who can put together a good chorus, bridge, and fist-raising anthem, and know more than 3 chords. Nice to see that the kids are keeping the genre alive. On appearance alone, the lead singer reminded me of a young, straight Jon Ginoli but I didn't catch enough of the lyrics to see if the Brutal Dildos were gay, straight, mysogynist, or whatever. But musically, that's were they were at: What if Pansy Division were straight?
wears a turned up straw cowboy hat, plays an ol hollow-body electric, and faithfully covers (but not note-for-note, he's got his own thang going on) the Rev Horton Heat's Marijuana. Sometimes he goes down-home to play striaght up git-tar, sometimes he goes and visits his lookalike's Robert Quine's neighborhood. Singer Mark E Lee, clad in a Nashville Pussy T-shirt bellows and croons out some kind of down-home country blues, but that's only telling you half their influences. Bass player Jeff O'Connor, taking a break from cock rockers the Cocksmiths, has metal and glam (and I also heard definite prog) roots that make full use of his five-string bass and eight-box effects rack. It's like you had these cowpunk kids, but they didn't fall asleep during classical music class when they played Aaron Copland. "Wait, you mean I can be Americana and musically complex? Hand me that guitar!" The skill here, though, is adding all these touches in the right doses, not to show off that you can, but to use it when it's called for. So you get a wailin' country blues with some minor dimished scale thing that adds more than just the typical murder shack danger zone. I actually wanted to rewind and hear it again, just to see where they were going musically with it. This is one of those few bands that on the surface, is a great act to see live because of the energy put forth on stage. What makes them stand out is that I'm betting that on record, they're going to be on of those bands you'll listen to again and again, finding something new in each go-round. "I don't know how to describe us, either," says O'Connor afterwards. We're both showing each other our new toys: he's got a new bass, I've got a new camera, and we're still getting used to the feel of each. I know, I'm probably making them sound a lot more serious than they are: oh, did I tell you they ROCK? And theyr'e fun? Well I did now. Why did I wait so long to catch them? Because I thought they were going to be yet another rockabilly band that smriked all the way through ironic renditions of inbred-o-rock. As Simon Cowell so rarely admits, "I was wrong."
execption to one of my most headfast rules: don't be in a band with your significant other, or don't make somebody in your band your SO. Either the band will be lame or the relationship will suck. Often, both. (Sonny and Cher? Divorced! Timbuk 3? Lame! Fleetwood Mac? Divorced, messed up AND they got lame! I rest my case.) But Cliff and Marie Ullsberger-- they've been together forever and so has Wanda and neither show any signs of suckieness or lameness. Quite the contrary: I don't know them personally well enough, but Wanda Chrome the band just gets better and tighter. Oh, and louder. Jesus, they were loud. Freaking loud, man. Cliff gets on stage and starts pounding power chords through his Marshall stack and he can't hear himself through the PA, but no matter. Marie, one of the top ten coolest women ever to walk on stage, starts laying down the foundation and there they go, delivering the goods. Of course they do "Jet Black," which Cliff points out was originally recorded with Stace in Walls Have Ears' original studio, down the street in the basement of Stace's old house. And because its about how "She used to wear Jet Black," it hasn't aged a bit, it's gotten even more poignant.
Steve Whalen is also in the crowd. He reports that master garage songwriter Peder Hedman has a new thing going (and Whalen is in on it, of course): The Peder Hedman Quartet. (It's about time Hedman just started using his name. He's got the cred to do so -- and how many great acts have I missed because I didn't know they were a Peder production?) Hedman of course plays guitar and sings, Whalen's on drums, steel guitar virtuoso Tim "Otis" Taylor is there, and some guy I'm not familiar with named Kurt Bauer is on bass. I'm sure he's good, as Whalen pointed out, he wouldn't be in this lineup if he wasn't. Next gig? At St. Robert's Church Festival, 5 p.m. June 2! Right after mass! So here's your schedule -- begin fasting at 3, go to mass and get your Sunday obligation out of the way, receive Holy Communion, and then commune with the Peder Hedman Quartet. Perfect.