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LIVE REVIEWS WINTER 2005

Key: (JG: Jeff Greenback)(RK: Rich Kroneiss)(EL: Eric Lastname)(TK: Todd Trickknee)(MTC: Matt Coppens)

Final Solutions/Lids/Night Terrors @ Kraftbrau Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI 12/19/04
I got to the Kraftbrau early. Real early. So early in fact that the bands hadn’t even arrived yet, or so I thought. I walked in to the bar area and was informed that I wasn’t all that early but that the bands were very late. Apparently they’d all played in Chicago the previous night where there was a snow storm like none the Midwest had seen in quite some time, making it necessary to close down Interstate 94 completely, which meant that the bands had to turn all the way back around and take an alternate route, turning the usual four hour drive into a grueling seven-plus hour trip. I was skeptical that they would even show up at all. But alas, around eleven pm I spotted a road weary and irritable looking Tony Sagger with everybody from all the other camps in tow. Great. Now it was time to really start draining beers instead of nursing the five or six I had poured down my throat earlier in the night.
The Night Terrors were the first band to hobble up onto stage and while they looked a bit tired on their way in once Tony strummed his first chord they all became highly energized. Kalamazoo, MI is Tony Sagger’s second home and the local crowd was giving him and his band a great response, singing along, throwing their fists up into the air, throwing around pictures from an all black porno magazine. You know, the usual. Tony writhed, kicked, and screamed his way through the whole set while Kevin laid down a more controlled but no less entertaining delivery while drummer Eric, who has improved on drums immensely since their earlier days, kept the beat and really kept it all from going off the tracks. I know a lot of people don’t care much for their record but seeing this band live is a must.
The Lids were up next. I had not seen them play since their amazing set at the ’04 HozAc Blackout so I was very excited in seeing them play again. There was a lot of hype and high expectations put on the Lids on this tour as it was planned just minutes after their shit-hot debut self-titled LP on Rip Off was released. I moseyed my way up front with two beers in hand as the Lids broke into their first song “RHTS” from their new record. Everything sounded great, just as it did just seven months earlier in Chicago and the crowd seemed to be enjoying them. But many things looked different. As many may know, Jay Reatard was perched behind the drum kit and where there used to be three pretty girls standing in the middle, banging tambourine’s on their hips, and adding lead and backing vocals there was now only Alix. Still, she sounded great and looked great (I talked to her after the show and she wanted NOTHING to do with me, go figure), as did the rest of the band but the energy they had at the Blackout just months prior wasn’t there. Whether it was the absence of the other two girls or the eight hour drive from Chicago to Kalamazoo crammed in a van with each other, I don’t know. Not a disappointing set but not quite as great as they were at the Blackout. I’ve heard from others though that the Lids sets in the other respective towns were right up there with their performance in Chicago at the Blackout on this tour.
I had never seen the Final Solutions play but have loved their records from the first moment I heard them so I propped myself right up in front of the stage so as not to miss a single thing. I had no idea what to expect from these guys, so I brought along two more beers with me to either guzzle down if they were good or to throw the drinks at them if they were bad. I’m such a tough ass. Lucky for them those drinks got guzzled down as these crazed Southern motherfuckers proceeded to floor everyone in the crowd with one of the most crazed, high energy sets I’ve witnessed all year. Everybody in the band was right on. Jay Reatard was perfect on drums, Justice was nuts on guitar, Tommy looked like a shorter blonde Jimmy Hollywood flying into the air and giving everybody a “I will kill you” death stare, Zac was about as crazy as you can get as a front man without trying to out-GG GG or out-Darby Darby. Everything was perfect about their set. Best live band of the night hands down. I bought several Die Slaughterhaus singles and the new Final Solutions 7” on Shit Sandwich which all kill. After the show my designated driver and the rest of the riders in my car took off where I managed to nearly smash our my passenger side window with my head, break my glove compartment which is now permanently locked shut, then pass out going down the highway at seventy MPH with my head out the window in three degree weather. Goddamn I am cool.(MTC)

Human Eye/Terrible Twos/the Clams @ Kraftbrau Brewery. Kalamazoo, MI- 1/21/05>
I could already tell this was going to be a great night while I was sitting in the Main St. Pub on West Main Street in Kalamazoo stuffing my face with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and washing it all down with the cheapest brew for my dollar. I'd already stopped in at my favorite record store across the street from the 'pub' and came out with some excellent purchases. Remove the overwhelmingly cold nip in the air and the all-too-real threat of over twelve inches of snowfall on said night and this night was mine. Or so I would have liked to believe.
There has been a lot of excitement as of late on the net over Human Eye. Many people have not had the chance to see them play yet but still think they're experts on the band and their sound. This would mark my third time witnessing their chaotic, noisy, and reckless set. I stood around talking to a few friends before the first band, the Clams, took the stage. I told them not to expect another Clone Defects, that Human Eye sounds NOTHING like the Clone Defects live despite what others out in Internet land may have told them. But I?m getting ahead of myself here.
The Clams were the first band to hit the stage. I've written about them a few other times so I don't feel like I need to review their show again. You still want me to? Okay. They were good. There. Reviewed.
Up next were the Terrible Twos. I had never seen them nor had I ever heard anything about them. Where they come from I have no clue. How long they've been playing I have no clue. All I know about them is that these kids came out like a vicious pit bull eager to attack. Their singer screamed at, kicked at, and knocked over everything within three feet in front of him or three feet in back of him, leaving the promoter with a more than an unsatisfied look on his face. The Terrible Twos had a sound similar to older Touch & Go bands like Killdozer and Jesus Lizard, only played slightly faster. A very impressive set by a young energetic band that already seems to be headed in their own direction. Give me more.
Shortly after the Terrible Twos set came the highly anticipated Human Eye set. A small Asian girl jumped up onto stage and started making a monstrous racquet on the drums while the drummer ran out into the crowd making ear-piercing screeches on an alto sax. The bass player and synth/keyboardist were both making the proper adjustments to their instruments to play the show. Timmy Vulgar came running out in what looked to be a welder's mask cut in half and decorated in paint and tin foil all the while squirting out fake blood through a squeeze toy heart and running a vacuum cleaner through the microphones. Their noise trip lasted all of two minutes and then their real set began. The rest of the band kind of stands there holding down the rhythm while Timmy does his thing, not unlike the Clone Defects, but this is a much more focused Timmy Vulgar. You don't find him messing up guitar riffs, going out of tune, or forgetting lyrics quite as often. You do however remain equally entertained, there's a certain energy and vibe going on in between the members in the band that is rare to come by. The recordings of Human Eye that have leaked out recently don't really give much insight into what they are like live. Live they are much noisier and much more hard to swallow for many people. Their set was a bit spacier than the past two sets I had witnessed many months earlier but they sounded tighter and much more familiar with each other. They played around ten songs and then called it quits, only to be brought back to play one more. They had written the song they played in their "encore" just a couple days earlier but ran through it anyway. It was a song dedicated to their good friends Tim VanEsley and Scott Head Schwack, who were killed just weeks earlier in a car accident in which Timmy Vulgar was rumored to be killed in. Great song. After the set there were a lot of mixed reactions about the band. Those who didn't quite know what to make of it left puzzled, wondering what the hell they had just seen. Those who enjoyed the band and the set were ecstatic at the truly unique and absolutely psychotic set they had witnessed, myself included. Best Human Eye set I?ve seen to date, they can only get better. Definitely check this band out if they ever come through your town, but DO NOT EXPECT ANYTHING EVEN SOMEWHAT RESEMBLING THE CLONE DEFECTS, HUMAN EYE IS A DIFFERENT BAND, get over it already. They have.(MTC)

Burning Hatreds/Night Terrors/King Khan & BBQ show@ Kraftbrau Brewery, Kalamazoo,MI- 2/1/05
I was tired, hungry, sober, irritated, and stuck in a car full of energetic happy sober people. Happy people always irritate me when I'm tired and sober so I drove the ol Cutlass into the parking lot of a crappy college bar where we ate great sandwiches and drank greater beer. Lots of beer. Bold amounts of beer. Astronomical amounts of beer. After a beer or three these people I was sitting with whom I reluctantly called "friends" went from irritating to fantastic. I was in a great mood all of a sudden and just polite as a bug. I was all "Yes ma'am's" and "No sirs'." Oh yeah, and I was pretty gosh dang excited to finally get the chance to see BBQ and King Khan together on the same stage as I'd been a fan of theirs since they went by the names of Creepy and Blacksnake back in the days when they played together in a little band called the Spaceshits.
It wasn?t long after getting to the venue/brewery/place where they sell the most potent yet somehow shittiest tasting beer I've ever drank in my entire fucking life that the first band the Burning Hatreds got onto stage, which was good for everyone around me as I was looking for action! The Burning Hatreds feature some kid on drums, TB illustrator/token art fag Ben Lyon on vocals and this really fat dude named Matt Biolchini on guitar who used to play guitar in a band called Hoss with some guy from the Piranhas. The Burning Hatreds kicked things off right immediately. They beat out a sound not too far removed from the Oblivians and Mistreaters and really got the crowd ready. Other than slaughtering "Carmelita" (Done GG style) their set was relatively flawless. Ben's a great front man. Biolchini's a great guitarist. They did what they were supposed to as the opening act, they got the crowd warmed up and excited.
Night Terrors hopped up next and were far tighter and better than any other time I'd seen them. Tony was on fire. Kevin was on fire. Eric was on fire. The crowd was fuckin' loving it. All of it. They played a lot of new songs and even 'jammed' out on older songs, adding extensions, chopping up pieces. I don?t know if their tightness as a unit came from playing together nearly everyday for at least a couple weeks or not but this was the set that converted many doubters, at least in crummy little K-zoo.
BBQ and King Khan got up next and started out unbelievably. They had the small but enthusiastic crowd bobbing and weaving and twistin' and shoutin' by the first song. It looked like what I can only the most perfect and hoppin' dance party in 1965 must have looked like. Mark a.k.a. BBQ sounded great vocally and held the rhythm down strumming his geetar and keeping the beat with his feet while King Khan was about as entertaining as any musician you could ever hope to see with his constant duck-walks, leaps, and perfectly placed leads. About forty minutes into the set they busted into an excellent version of the great Circle Jerks song "Operation" which was the highlight of the night for this punk-rock faggot. The crowd was going nuts, dancing offstage, dancing onstage, dancing on the motherfuggin' ceiling! After an hour and ten minutes into the set it finally ended. They started out great and ended great. I can't imagine many bands being any more fun than the BBQ & King Khan show this year. If I missed this show and I was you I?d kill myself and if you went but didn't buy their LP I'd suggest you track it down and I mean fast 'cause I'll tell you what it puts the cream in the panties, boy! Damn.(MTC)

Blowtops/Radio Beats/Trailer Park Tornados/Lost Sounds @ The Continental, Buffalo, NY
This was one of those weird shows. The Continental is a big venue, known more for techno-goth dance parties and as the place where Sylvain Sylvain or The Misfits (featuring Marky Ramone and Dez Cadena!) play when they hit Buffalo. Any time some quality bands play there, things just seem a bit off. Like someone said that night, it's one of those venues that seems to feel like it's out of town, when it's actually just a few city blocks from the place we're all normally holed up in watching bands. And the sound usually sucks, but in this case, it was especially bad. Which didn't actually prevent it from being a good show, but it didn't help any either. TPT open the show. You've heard me talk about them before, know their my local favorites, and I know they're better than you think they are, and you will realize this when the LP comes out on Big Neck, which, in Bart Hart-time, looks to be released sometime in 2007. But, I could be wrong, as it looks like Bart has snuck the new Tractor Sex Fatality single out while we weren't looking, so maybe he's on some sort of schedule now. So, yeah, TPT. They will grow on you, kinda like that stray dog you find, where he ain't real pretty, and he's missing an eye and has half an ear chewed off, but the little bastard has moxie, which automatically endears him to you despite being a mangy cur. He becomes YOUR mangy cur. TPT= Buffalo's mangy curs. Print the stickers up now, boys. Oh, and they've added a second guitarist (again), strangely not named Dave, but he is the ex-Concubine Forming axe wielder. Concubine are officially deceased, in case you're keeping track of good Buffalo bands who have become defunct. There was a brief ceremony, and they've now joined the ranks of The Backstabbers, Towpath, and others. Rest in peace. Still paying attention? Okay, Jay Hinman's favorite band the Radio Beats played next, and the quickly growing indie-rock crowd there to see the Lost Sounds could give a fuck. I in fact, did give a fuck however, and they persevered despite the shitty sound. Steve's between song banter went over like a two-ton brick, lost on the Erase Errata fans and Jade Tree Records purchasers who were becoming the majority in the club. A perfect example of a 'core' CMJ demographic if I've ever seen one. Like these people even knew who The Devil Dogs were. The nerve. They closed with a completely redundant and inappropriate Supercharger cover. Save that shit for the in-crowd boys! And stop ripping off the Statics ripping-off Supercharger! Stupidest crowd comment I heard that night: "Take it easy Kurt Cobain", laughingly muttered by some mookish emo-dude to his meathead pals, as Dan tossed his guitar in the air in a particularly punk rock moment. I hope I do not have to explain the complete stupidity and cultural ignorance inherent in this statement. Dan is one of the punkest and loudest guitar players I've seen in along while. I think we prank called Steve Baise after their set, just to assure ourselves we were cooler than the audience. Blowtops were next, and I gotta confess I missed a good portion of the set due to tobacco addiction. But, I will say I think the Blowtops version you are seeing these days is the best they have ever been. Replacing the bass with vintage Yamaha organ was a genius move, and Tracy sure makes these guys easier to look at. Dave stalked the crowd without getting the mic cord tangled up, they did the one where they toss the cymbal around (which I think is a good effect), did the Foetus cover I'm pretty sure, and played what might be the best Blowtops song ever, "Black Jebus", hopefully popping up on a single sometime soon. The crowd was semi-impressed from what I could see, but what they fuck did they know. All they wanted to see was the Lost Sounds, who have managed to successfully crack the college radio/indie-rock demographic in their rise out of the garage-punk gutter we all wallow in. Which results in weird shit, like people I don't even know going nuts front and center during their set. Buffalo isn't really a big place, and it's odd when it's not just the same thirty or forty people at every fucking show. It's good that a band we know can draw like that though, and the Lost Sounds merch table was reaping the benefits. I'm just gonna guess and say they sold at least $300 worth of shit to a crowd of maybe just over one hundred. They are merch monsters. But, they've earned it. Now, I can be charged as guilty of being one of the bigger Lost Sounds fanboys in the world, but hey, I've been there all the way. I saw them at Rust Belt Revolt when Jay had the sideways mullet and they sounded so bad I had to walk out mid-set even though I loved the album. I interviewed them on college radio. I've witnessed them turn into an absolutely ferocious live band over the course of what I hazily remember as at least ten different shows, over four years, in at least four different cities. So I was surprised when I kinda realized on my way to the show that I wasn't that psyched up to see them play. Usually I'm frothing at the mouth in anticipation, but this time I was non-plussed. Had I reached my Lost Sounds saturation point? As I cozied up to the stage to watch them, since getting as close to the stage as possible was the only way to combat the shitty sound that was getting worse as the night wore on, that attitude quickly faded. Even though I've heard them play these songs many times over, they sucked me in. Call me a faggot or whatever, but they are just an incredible live band, there is no denying it. They were physically sick and tired, and still pulled off of a great show. "Future Touch", "Black Coats/White Fear", a nice selection of new and old and more got the crowd worked up to the point where indie dudes ironically wearing ties were all kinds of excited. Jay did the first half of the set on vocals/guitar and the guy is fun to watch perform, no doubt about it. With Patrick in the line-up they've reached their pinnacle as far as live power goes and Rich Crook is one of the best drummers in the game today. Too bad all you could hear over the PA was his bass drum. Fuckin'-ay. So Alicja, obviously road weary and ill, takes over for the second half of the set, and gets through about two songs before her voice starts giving out, which sucks, because you can tell she's really giving it her all, or at least as much as she physically can. So that's a good Lost Sounds moment, giving it their all in a shithole like Buffalo on a Friday night for maybe a hundred people. So anyway, she can't really go on anymore, so Jay shuts it down and says last song since Alicja can't sing anymore. But he doesn't really say it, he rasps it out in his stage voice, which I always think is funny. "Aliiicja, you can't even sing," like he was singing "Get Out of Our Way" or something, and she says something back (in a normal voice, mind you), and he keeps conversing in that voice. Nuts. So anyway, they get a little pissy with each other, but they still do a monster ending, with Jay grabbing the mic and doing that spastic-android dance he's perfected over the years, slapping keyboards, getting mock-whipped by Alicja with her now unplugged guitar cord, and just doing the Jay going nuts thing. Fantastic way to end. So, say what you want about them, hate them for becoming more popular than you think they should be allowed to be, accuse them of pandering to a wider audience or going soft, bitch about their guarantees, or them becoming too monetarily concerned and attempting to make a living off their music, or whatever. Along with the A-Frames and Hunches, they're the best and most talented outfit that our little underground thing has spawned over the last few years, and to ignore or dismiss them is just lame and/or petty. Those indie rock kids don't fucking lie. (RK)

King Khan & BBQ Show/Night Terrors/Blowtops @ Mohawk Place, Buffalo, NY and Brutal Knights/Night Terrors/King Khan & BBQ Show @ Silver Dollar, Toronto, ON
If you had the misfortune of missing Khan/BBQ on their US jaunt, you certainly missed out on some fun. I almost did. Here's the story. I think it was the first night of the tour, or maybe the second, or maybe it was the first show with the Night Terrors. Anyway, I get to the show and find out their van has broken down in Detroit and they're running so late they probably won't be playing. Which turns out to be true. Blowtops play a good set, and the Radio Beats, who were in town to see the Khan/BBQ show end up getting recruited to play a set at the last minute, which turned out to be a good move. You can always count on these kids for some comic relief and rock'n'roll. Creepy Dave had a little too much to drink and spends the majority of the set heaving bottles, chairs, glasses, and anything else he can grab at Steve. Steve spends the majority of the set busting Blowtops chops. A truly hilarious situation for all twenty of us in attendance at this point, and worth coming out on one of the coldest days EVER. So we end up back at Tracy Blowtops house, everyone's way too drunk, I think someone was playing some Danzig tape, and we're waiting for the van to get there in hopes of an impomptu BBQ/Khan show in the kitchen. So the dudes roll in at like 2:00 am. Kevin Mistreater sells us a bunch of records, we drunkenly annoy the shit out of Khan and Blacksnake I'm sure, and we plead for a performance. Which we get, a beautiful rendition of "Waddlin' Around" in the kitchen for an audience of ten, with no drums, but it's absolutley incredible. One song is all we get though, before housemates start complaining. I leave sometime in the daylight, so drunk I take Aaron Blowtop's boots thinking they're mine. I spend the next few weeks recovering while Khan/BBQ and the Night Terrors barnstorm across the states, slaying rock fans left and right, Goner Fest included. I catch up with them again on the next-to-last date of the tour in Toronto. I find out the Night Terrors had to miss the final few dates due to a death in the family, marking the third occassion I've missed them play. The Toronto crowd is pretty good, lotsa good looking broads, most of the Deadly Snakes are there, and Dan Burke is freaking out. This was my first occassion to see the Brutal Knights, about whom I've heard good things, and they were OK. They wouldn't seem out of place opening for Speedealer or Zeke though. The singer is a real nice guy though, and they do a song about Dan Burke ("Dan Burke - you are a jerk.") The lyrics are really good and funny, but I can only give the music a B- at best. So Khan and BBQ get the stage. Khan is wearing some off-the-rack haute couture designed by Timmy Vulgar and his pants have split down the leg from too much rocking, revealing boxer shorts and an odd smell, his face is painted white and he's wearing the Prussian helmet one of the MooRat Fingers dudes gave him, essentially his costume for the entire tour. They proceed to shred the r'n'r rule book by blending equal parts punk (Circle Jerks cover!), R&B, soul-a-billy-n-roll, and sheer craziness, and become some corporeal manifestation of the true definition of real, down to earth, god-loving music, a feat obviously not easily accomplished. Khan played as if demons were battling for his soul and BBQ played it cool, the straight-man to Khan's rock-and-rolling duckwalking dervish. It was sweet. If "Fish Fight" isn't one of the best tunes ever, I'm a dead man. They set ended in a blaze of Blacksnake fury, shirtless and dripping sweat and trying to strangle every last ounce of life out of the corpse of rock'n'roll. A truly sublime moment, and one I will savor for a long, long time. (RK)

Human Eye pic by Linsay McConney
BBQ/Khan pic by Jay Walker
Khan pic by Dale Nixon

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