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Concert Reviews: December 1994


The Cramps
Gas Huffer
Club DV8 

Gas Huffer opened this show but due to my responsibilities as a service sector worker I missed their entire set. The usual Salt Lake City fiasco surrounding tickets was in place. SLUG hacks were slighted in favor of more respectable names in the city, names I won’t mention but whose faces you won’t see at a Cramps show or in a local club. They prefer the well mannered audiences, sterility and distance from the musicians offered at the Huntsman Center, Abravanel Hall, and the Delta Center

A group of four individuals stand posing with various instruments while their band name, The Cramps, appears in black text in the top left corner of their white backdrop. The Cramps were just beginning their set as the gatekeepers apologized for the slight, allowing me into the club. Lux Interior looked giant in his heels and black polyurethane suit. Poison Ivy was resplendent with her cascade of red hair and the skin-tight black bodysuit which gave only hints to the voluptuous wonders pictured on every Cramps album—they were hidden by her large (of course) Gretsch hollow body. No strats or teles for this girl. Off to the side was Slim Chance on the bass, also in heels and black, and looking mighty pretty in makeup. 

Highlights of The Cramps set included “Swing the Big Eyed Rabbit,” “Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?” “She Said,” “Ultra Twist,” “ Blues Blues Blues,” “ Let’s Get Fucked Up,” and “Surfin’ Bird.” Lux twisted and bent the mic stand as if it were a snake. Finally, he broke it in half, writhing on the floor in the throes of solo-sexual ecstasy brought on by the audience’s adulation. He climbed the speaker cabinets, performing fellatio on the microphone. When he reached the highest point he possibly could, he stuck the microphone in the faces of residents of DV8’s upper deck desirous of adding their “hey, hey, hey’s” to “Surfin’ Bird.” 

Poison Ivy seemed detached as she brought forth the licks from her guitar collection. She hardly even glanced at her partner even as he barked, panted, moaned and writhed at her feet. There was an irritating hum from the stage throughout the night. At one point the roadie stopped them to attempt a repair, “a malfunction at the junction” according to Lux. No such luck. The hum continued, but it didn’t interfere with my pleasure. 

They sang about the origins of this city’s name. Several tons of saltine crackers were dumped in “the lake” (like “the church” there’s only one here), which killed all the fish and led to the name, “Gumbo Lake City.” 

During “Zombie Dance” bassist Chance went insane ripping up and down his bass strings, bringing forth unearthly sounds. From my vantage point I didn’t have a good view of the drummer. He was rock solid and kept the beat going for everyone in the pit. In front of the stage stood a group of gum-chewing muscle boys. Were they on speed, steroids or cocaine? Someone had to keep order because the club was filled to capacity and the audience was very  into it. When the surfers approached too close to the stage, the muscle boys tossed them back into the crowd. Luckily, no one broke their back or their neck. I think one fellow woke up on Saturday morning with a broken foot. He was too drunk to realize how much damage he’d done to himself on Friday night. 

This was one of the best audiences I’ve encountered at a local performance. There were plenty of boomers—not the boomers you see down at the house Larry built—these boomers have been into The Cramps for years and they were not about to miss the show due to graying hair and bulging bellies. The “alternative” audience was there in force, many believed they were watching a punk rock band. The punks and ‘billies made sure to inform them that The Cramps don’t play punk rock. It was a great show, the first show of The Cramps’ current road trip. I hope Flamejob sells platinum and the Cramps become millionaires. Then everyone can hate them for selling out with the psychobilly they’ve played for the last 18 years to a cult audience. —Willie Wheels

Many male faces superimposed on random women's bodies. In the top right corner in black text the bands name, Pigface, appears. Pigface
Evil Mothers

On Thanksgiving Eve, the hotels were filled with visiting musicians. The choices on what to see were staggering. The Cinema Bar and The Zephyr are my neighbors, which made my choice slightly easier. Some might argue with the selection because over at DV8 there was a smashing line-up of punk rock. I’m a little disappointed with the treatment I’ve received from Cargo Records lately; I’m on a personal boycott until the situation changes. 

The Evil Mothers, Horsey, and Pigface were scheduled at Spanky’s. Pop Will Eat Itself, Dink, and Compulsion were at the Zephyr. Of these, Horsey didn’t show up. At Spanky’s the hard Texas-grind of the Evil Mothers began the session. The portion of their show I caught was impressive. The two drummers, guitar, bass and manic singer warmed up to the crowded hall and introduced Salt Lake to another fearsome band from the Lone Star State.

Over at the Zephyr, Dink had completed their set. Missing them didn’t bother me in the least. Compulsion was on stage. Punk rock with hooks is the description. The Irish combo had the clean punk look and so did the audience. The Zephyr was also packed with musical connoisseurs due to heavy X-96 promotion and the Milk Beast parked out front. Compulsion’s album is one to look for. The more I listen to it the more I like it.The songs from the album are likely to pop into the brain at unexpected moments. They were even better live. If you missed them, buy the album and request airplay. It was kind of amusing to watch the novices in the pit injure themselves and others with mindless flailing. The stink of clove cigarettes and  fashionable perfume that smells like sex after drinking a half-gallon of Mogen David drove me back to Spanky’s. 

The plan was to catch some Pigface then go back to the Zephyr for Pop Will Eat Itself. Things didn’t work out that way. From the opening moments of Pigface’s show I was transfixed. The band played behind a screen while a Mad Hatter sang. One song and the screen came down to reveal a double drum set, a huge black man on the bass, a pony-tailed keyboardist, two guitarists and the Hatter. Pigface had a huge, hearing-damaging sound. 

Playing drums were Martin Atkins and Joe Trump. On vocals was Mary Byker and Meg Lee Chin, among others. I believe the bassist was Charles Levi. James Teitelbaum was the keyboard dude. The night’s major themes were fucking, sucking and religion. The group on stage changed membership with almost every song. It didn’t matter who was on stage because the pounding rhythms never let up. After 45 minutes they exited only to return at the audience’s request for another 45 minutes. The second set made the night. Ogre came out with a sitar for a little strange improvisation. A third drum set was added during his piece and Danny Carey of Tool took sticks in hand. From then on the intensity picked up to an almost unbearable level. The pit was filled with violence, luckily no fights broke out. The bouncers in front stayed calm. 

Highlights included Mary Byker riding the crowd surf in an inflatable raft, Ogre playing a 55-gallon steel drum, the audience participation number, “Hips, Tits, Lips, Power!” and the entire entourage’s cover of the classic rock chestnut, “Whole Lotta Love.” The finale was Ogre lighting the top of his drum on fire while continuing to play (shades of Butthole Surfers) and with the lights turned down the tribal healing rituals were completed around an oil-can fire with chants and beats. I’m sorry to have missed Pop Will Eat Itself, but I simply could not tear myself away from the spectacle at the Cinema Bar. A truly incredible musical performance and at last, a show of the month I saw that Mad Maxx, Ms. Wolf, and Travelin’ Man missed.


October 17 – Club DV8 

Once again Drown blessed us with their presence. This time, the event was held at Club DV8 on October 17th. If you were there, you experienced something that was cathartic and hard to verbally explain. If you weren’t there, you probably don’t get out too much and I feel sorry for you. Once again, they took the stage and literally attacked their music like a warrior confronting their worst enemy. Once they begin, they just don’t let up—hit after hit, note after note, just kicking it as hard as humanly possible. You try to look away, you try to look at other people: you want to see if their reaction is like yours. But no matter how hard you try, you just can’t pull away. It’s so real and it’s so brutally honest. It’s like looking at a car wreck, you’re frightened, yet intrigued—almost fascinated. You are staring so hard that in any other social circumstance it would be offensive. In reality, you find yourself praying that the lead singer, Lauren Boguette, doesn’t jump on top of you and take out all his pent up aggression on your frail frame, because it looks like he just might do that.

Boguette doesn’t just sing, he gets up there and looks you right in the eyes like he means business and he does. But when you sit down and talk with Boguette, you find he’s down to earth and he comes off as being a very centered person. He’s cordial, honest and yes, he looks you right in the eyes again. 

Drown is a fairly new band in this neck of the woods. Their debut CD was released on May 31 on Elektra Records, but they have been together for over five years. (Yeah, now it makes sense why they come off sounding so polished on the CD and in their live shows.) They went straight for a major label. I don’t have to tell you how rare that is these days. According to Lauren they were never into the “independent mentality.” he says “We use so much technology that our equipment is really expensive, and it’s expensive for us to record. You can’t really do things half-ass with all of the shit we use, because then it just sounds cheap. So we really couldn’t do anything independent, and for us it would have to be quality. If someone is going to pay for our CD, it’s got to sound good. We could have signed with World Domination, which is owned by Capitol, three and a half years ago. We actually turned it down. The money they offered was good money, it wasn’t bad, but we just couldn’t do it the way we wanted to do it. We are not going to sacrifice the way we sound, ‘just because.’” 

The first time I saw Drown I was amazed at how physical and emotional they are live. Some shows come off like a choreographed production. (NIN, Winger, KISS…You know, bands like that.) But a Drown show is spontaneous, letting the music move them at will. SLUG: “I think music is an emotional thing. People are tied to music, whatever music they listen to, emotionally.” Boguette says “Yeah, I know for me it’s something I have to do. I never woke up one day and said, ‘I think I’ll be in a band.’ I grew up being the craziest fan. When I was about 14 years old, it was like ‘Of course I’ll play music, of course I’ll be in a band.’ But I never really thought about it. Everyone in the band is the same way. There was no starting point it was just like, ‘here we are.’” 

If you have the CD, Hold on to the Hollow, you’ll notice that Skinny Puppy member Dave Ogilvie produced the album. boguette said it was amazing working with Ogilvie and that Drown views him as one of them, saying that “Dave just understood what we were about and what we wanted to do.” 

If you haven’t heard Drown yet and you want to know what they’re about, cancel your $70.00 an hour therapy session for this week take $15 of those clams, and go out and buy Hold on to the Hollow. I think it will give you a new perspective on the phrase, “Just let it our, come on, tell me how you feel.”


The Cranberries
November 23 – Saltair 

3,000 people didn’t wait until Thanksgiving for their helping of The Cranberries. The audience was tense and anticipatory of the group’s arrival on stage, as witnessed and felt by their ear-shattering response when Dolores O’Riordan (vocals, electric & acoustic guitars & keyboard) first walked on stage. Fergal Lawler (drums), Noel Hogan (electric & acoustic guitars) and Mike Hogan (bass guitar) took their places while Dolores announced “Everything I Said.” The energy was high as the band began playing and continued through “Sunday”, and as O’Riordan handed her acoustic guitar to a stage hand, grabbed the mike and faced the audience, she got every one in the crowd to clap along with her as “Pretty” got started. 

The crowd jumped as one body to The Cranberries music. Ttheir overt enthusiasm was pressed them forward towards the stage, forcing the event staff to constantly pull people out of the crowd and send them down and around to the back of the auditorium. One fan had an Irish flag with a Gaelic message written on it; He waved it towards the stage from the balcony vainly hoping the band would notice. 

When—“Dreams” kicked in, the crowd slowly started to sway in mellow enjoyment while a few cheered but not loud enough to disturb the mood of the song. As the songs continued, the Cranberries seemed solid. There was of degree of hesitation in O’Riordan’s vocals, Lawler’s drums and Hogan and Hogan’s guitar and bass. One would have expected the concert to have more mellow overtones in keeping with most of the songs on their latest release No Need To Argue but if anything, The Cranberries jazzed up the songs and injected them with an excitement that infected the crowd. Despite the band’s enthusiasm, perhaps the evening highlight occurred when in the tenth number “Ode To My Family” a zealous fan jumped from the crowd (six to seven feet at least) over the heads of several event staff, landed on stage feet first and ran towards O’Riordan (as she was playing the keyboards). He then proceeded to put his arm around her in a gentle manner and rest his head on hers. O’Riordan froze, stopped playing and singing. The unknown fan backed up and looked around himself, noticed three stage hands at the back of the stage moving in on him and one event staff security guard he had jumped from the front of the stage. The madman managed to dodge all four of the security personnel and leap back into the crowd, escaping capture completely. The cheers from the crowd were tremendous—he was an instant hero, and the crowd helped him surf to safety with a pat on the back. The rest of the show continued with “Not Sorry,” “Waltzing Back,” “Dreams” and “Zombie.” 

It seemed as if the whole room joined in for the latter two while O’Riordan reached out to fans holding flowers for her. Three encore songs followed, including O’Riordan alone and acoustic on the title track of their latest release, “No Need To Argue.” The Cranberries then left the stage with Lawler (last to exit) tossing his drum sticks out as souvenirs. Traveling by bus, The Cranberries were quickly off to their next stop, San Francisco. David McKay (United Concerts) told us that the Cranberries would finish up their tour before Christmas in Toronto, head back to Ireland and return to Salt Lake City next summer—good news for those fans who missed out on an exciting sold-out show.

Read More Archived Articles:
Concert Reviews: December 1993
Concert Review: Jane’s Addiction and Primus