Looking for Elvis and an elusive medallion in the Garage

Red Stuff in a pink light by V'ron
Red Stuff in a pink light, a photo by V'ron on Flickr.
Well, I kind of have my own airheadedness to blame -- and thank -- for a nice band night out. I originally was going to pop into Stoney Rivera's Dominium Gallery to see the opening of Patrick Glassel's show. Except, that wasn't last Friday. It's this Friday. I drove past the gallery and all the lights were out and I thought to myself, "I knew he was dark, but not literally!" But since I was in Riverwest, I figured to myself, "Well, somebody's got to be at the Circle A tonight."

Pulled up just in time to see a band called Red Stuff strike their first chords. "Loud and obnoxious," I heard somebody else say three songs in. No, that's really not a good summation. Everybody's fairly loud and usually obnoxious in the Circle A. Red Stuff was something different. Let me see if I can come up with something besides the inevitable White Stripes comparaison that anybody who's going to write about these guys is going to drop. Hmmmmm, well, the Stripes come to mind because it's a guy wailing a garage frosted-psychedelic blues, accompanied by a girl providing rhythm, except that her rhythm isn't on the drums, it's on a lap steel guitar. And Kelly Buros doesn't play it to achieve a wailing country sound, she genuinely uses it as a rhythm instrument that very seductively undermines singer/guitarist Tom Wanderer's work. That's where somebody in the audience said, "Is it me, or have these guys listened to a lot of Wire?" I answered back, "I heard a touch of the Cramps, myself." And that's why the White Stripes comparisons end. The Stripes, despite their Detroit lineage, are not trashy. On the other hand, Paul "The Fly" Lawson, in the audience as well, told me, "I've been trying to get these guys in for Trash Fest for a while." Duh. Red Stuff was wonderfully trashy, right down to the drummer's miminalist kit (and approach). And you know how much I love the trash. They even had a trash attitude, in that they delivered a blistering set inspiring calls of "More!!!!" from the audience, and yet, they forgot to bring their merch. They have merch, and I wanted the take home version of Red Stuff. This was exactly what I was looking for when I resolved this year to see more new, fresh bands.

Despite that, they were not lazy -- the songs are hypnotic in their simplicity, the chord changes, and their delivery. Red Stuff. Good stuff. They opened for an outfit from Chicago called Phantom Works. I thought the Circle A crowd was not exactly welcoming to them, and I felt bad because I needed to leave after just a couple of songs, but I did want to catch a set from the Dick Satan Trio like I said I would. Phantom Works was good, but they didn't grab me. Not quite yet. The couple of songs they did have more of that Wire sound, but they were so similar that I suspected that after three songs of this, I'd pretty much gotten their flavor. I wouldn't wanted to have to follow Red Stuff that night, but I should give Phantom Works another chance.

Listened to Elvis as I made my way back to the south side; I was sad to hear that our local best Elvis, Jon VanThiel (who's a great leather/Jailhouse Rock Elvis -- my preference as opposed to the Vegas Era) did not make it to the finals of the annual Elvis competition at Potowatomie Bingo and Casino. Didn't make it out this year, but was happy to hear it on the PA as I made my way down to the Rocco's on Kinnickinnic. "Where's Roccos?" you might ask. Duh, I'm looking at the addresses and drove past it twice before I realize, oh DUH, it's the VFW post on KK. DST put in a fine set before Ted Jorin and I had an arugment, while listening to Elvis' "Kentucky Rain" over the jukebox, on the merits of said song. Jorin argues that it's the highlight of Elvis' career -- scratch that, the highlight of music. Ach, "Kentucky Rain" is not one of my favorite Elvis moments. In fact, to me, it symbolizes the lameness of Elvis' Vegas years. But people seem to love it, which is probably why Johnny Van Thiel did not win the Elvis competition this past weekend. Oh, the DST show? Wonderful as always. Tonight's moment came from all of us discussing Rick Satan (aka Eric Knitter)'s medallion that he was wearing. Will you look at this thing? His lovely wife Julie told me she found it many years ago at a rummage sale. I couldn't take my eyes off it. I tried to snap a picture of it with my camera phone, and then my regular camera. I couldn't get the light right. It was refusing to be photographed. I will have to hook up with Julie at a later date to see if we can re-photograph this thing, unless some protective spirit doesn't shatter my lens during the attempt.


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