Sunday, November 11, 2012
Teenage Bottlerocket, the Useless and Hotel Chelsea @ the Red Room (11/8/12)
A couple guys whose taste in punk I respect were excited about Teenage Bottlerocket coming to town, so I grew intrigued. The fact that local outfits the Useless and Hotel Chelsea were opening for the Wyoming band seemed like a good sign as well, so I marked this show down on the calendar.
The gentlemen I spoke with weren't the only ones excited about this gig. There had to have been at least eighty people at the Red Room when I arrived, and Wes Malvini would tell me later that 160 people had paid for tickets. Pretty impressive, considering that Gwar was playing at the Knitting Factory this same night. I found the fairly broad age range of the audience equally impressive.
Hotel Chelsea opened the show. Not only did their buzzsaw guitars and high-speed rhythm section sound in fine form, the band seemed genuinely happy to be playing this gig. Red Kubena's harmonies rang out loud and proud on "Sampson is a Fuck," and the crowd danced, clapped, cheered and threw up the horns throughout.
Next up was the Useless. This marked their second time playing live with their reassembled horn section (their first was an opening slot for Reel Big Fish at the Knitting Factory, which I'm sure they didn't find intimidating at all). The trombone and two trumpets added just the right jaunty, woozy touch to such paeans to delinquency as "French Fries and DUI's" and "Policeman." Jason Rucker's rough vocals and sharp guitar sounded pretty damn good, especially considering how drunk he was, and the sturdy rhythm section kept van cruising down the road. Moments where the grip on the wheel slipped a little just added to the fun. A few excerpts from this set:
"Shh! It's a sad panda party!"
"Hey, who here likes ska?" "WOO!" "Who here likes heroin?" "WOO!"
"How many of you are f*cked up right now? Raise your hands!" (Five or six people did, but I wouldn't consider that an accurate number.)
"Jason Rucker got me drunk!"
"I suck? Depends on what you're selling."
"This is probably gonna be our last song unless more shots come."
"If you're a cop out there, this song goes out to you! SOO-EEE!"
Teenage Bottlerocket closed out the night. If one of their members hadn't regularly shouted out "ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR!" in perfect Dee Dee fashion, I'd have never guessed that these guys liked the Ramones. Just kidding: their rip-roaring guitars, hi-hat-heavy drumming and lyrics about freak-outs and nuthouses had the Ramones written all over them. They had strong enough songwriting and performance chops to make this stuff their own, however, and they'd also taken care to absorb the Ramones' sense of manic fun. The crowd became a roiling mass of flesh as Teenage Bottlerocket blasted through one song after another. "I don't know why the f*ck we never been here before," someone in the band said at one point. Hopefully, it won't be the last time.
You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online. Special thanks to Wes Malvini and the Red Room.