Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Vibrators, The Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass, Piranhas and Chris McFarland @ the Shredder (9/17/12)

I got very, very excited about this show.  The Vibrators are one of the great unknown UK punk pioneers: they formed in 1976, played the same spots that the Clash and the Sex Pistols did, opened for Iggy Pop and Ian Hunter (Mott the Hoople).  I discovered their music back when I was in college, and for a while, I actually preferred their debut album Pure Mania to Never Mind the Bollocks.  I missed their show at the Shredder last year because, frankly, I didn't believe the flyers that I saw around town ("C'mon, it can't be THE Vibrators, right?  Gotta be somebody else...").  I wasn't gonna make the same mistake twice.

I can't really understand why attendance was so dismal for this show; from what I've heard, the Vibrators' last go-round was something to see/hear.  I just know that it was too bad that the audience didn't get over twenty-five.  This was something to see/hear too.

I missed Michael Dean Damron's set, but I did get down to the Shredder in time to catch the set by Brooklyn musician Chris McFarland.  It might've just been me, but I thought I heard a little Springsteen in this dude's sturdy tenor and mid-tempo, tunefully punkish songs.  In any case, his voice, songwriting, ringing twelve-string guitar and well-crafted backing tracks got over well enough.

Up next were the local punk group Piranhas, whose performance reinforced my good impression of them.  Solidly crafted tunes; friendly, high-energy frontman; sharp lead guitarist; unobtrusive rhythm section.  Not a New York steak, but a damn tasty hamburger.

After Piranhas came the Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass, an all-female trio from Japan.  As soon as you read that last part, I'm sure that some of you hipsters immediately thought "Shonen Knife."  A bit of advice: push that thought out of your mind right now before this group comes and rips your head off.  "Fierce" barely begins to describe this group's mix of bluesy, swaggering grooves, metallic riffs, shrieking solos, bone-crushing bass and drums and howled, bellowed vocals.  Their "House of the Rising Sun" cover made Eric Burdon sound like Anthony Hegarty.  Would've been worth the price of admission all by themselves.

After the Akabane Vulgars came the Vibrators.  To their credit (considering their history), they didn't seem to let the meager crowd faze them very much.  Even more to their credit (considering their age), the intensity level of their performance didn't pale in comparison to that of their Japanese opener.  The Vibrator's set was comprised predominantly of songs from their first two albums, Pure Mania and V2.  That was to be expected, I suppose, but certainly not unwelcome.  In fact, the V2 material sounded a lot better than I remembered (I've never been a big fan of that album, but I might need to dust it off now).  And thanks to the rapid-fire drumming, zooming bass, rip-roaring guitar and winningly rough vocals, the newer material rawked just as hard.  My only real complaint was that they didn't play my favorite Pure Mania song, "Into the Future" ("Gonna be a new world./ I'm lookin' for a cheap thrill.").  It's okay, though: I consoled myself with their renditions of "I Need a Slave" and "London Girls," which kicked as much ass as the album versions if not more.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.

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